(Editor’s note: This essay is the latest in a series from author and speaker Ken Druck, based on work in his book Courageous Aging, which is about how all people can make peace with, and find joy in, every stage of life.)
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m changing things up a little this year and making a few New Year’s “un-resolutions.”
Perhaps it’s the campaign for irreverent and audacious aging I’ve been on since the publication of my new book. The oppositional-defiant 68-year-old kid in me is tired of making New Year’s resolutions. Having been hell-bent on self-improvement most of my life, maybe I’m doing this to free myself of the shoulds, coulds and ought to do’s.
Taking a break from making agreements I might not keep; pressuring myself to be better, smarter, thinner, healthier, richer and happier; giving myself a sabbatical from striving, stressing and/or straining to willfully plan or control the future or make deadlines… might be just what the doctor ordered.
2018: A Year to Learn Valuable Life Lessons
The new year, 2018, could be the perfect time for learning valuable life lessons.
The hidden benefits of taking a step back from my driven type-A personality and letting things evolve naturally could add immeasurably to the quality, length and enjoyment of my life. Not to mention my relationships. I ‘ve decided that my word for the new year is going to be “ease.”
And so, with all due respect to procrastination-ending promises, spirited goals, deeply held commitments and news-making fresh starts, I’m opting out of New Year’s resolutions and treating the first of the year as just another precious day.
My Un-Resolution for the Year Ahead
The sun will rise and fall in the absence of anything resembling a resolution. Instead, my un-resolution, to leave all well alone, resist having to resolve anything, and let go and relax will go into effect at midnight on Dec. 31.
This doesn’t mean I’m not open to positive change and self-improvement this coming year. Or that my contrarian inner child has taken over and I’m going to the dark side. Nor does it mean I’m opposed to making things as good as, if not better, than they’ve ever been. I’m actually counting on having one of my best years ever in 2018.
Becoming More ‘Zen Ken’
It just means that I’m going to lighten up, calm my heart, feel grateful for what I already have and become a little more “Zen Ken.”
By lightening up, I’m going to allow myself to move through the moments, hours, days, weeks and months of this new year allowing — rather than pressing — to get things done. Allowing my moods, motivations, energy, dreams, aspirations, habits and patterns to rise and fall with the sun will be a refreshing departure from my task-driven way of life.
How to do this will, of course, be a challenge — I imagine there will be lots of deep breaths, saying “no” and biting my tongue involved. But I’m ready. Taking time off from exerting effort and forcing change will open new doors of discovery. And I’m excited.
Driving Some Family Members Crazy
Resolving not to lose weight, work less, get healthier, save the world, make more money, eat better, learn to play the guitar, grow my business — or even be a more loving father, fiancé, son, brother and uncle is already driving a few of my family members crazy. “How could you be so negative?” one of my positive-think friends asked.
Driven by our ardent willfulness, pressure, adrenaline and “never enough” messages, we fail to allow that which is already unfolding in us, and in the world, to emerge. This year, I’m going to get out of my own way, step aside and trust that the better version of me will awaken if, when and how it’s ready to do so.
I’m ready to see what good things can bubble up without champagne-induced New Year’s Resolutions — and run with them.
Signing off gratefully and wishing you an especially joyous new year,
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