It’s the New Year and we are all contemplating all the ways to change. All the ways to improve. There is something exciting to think about a new year and all the possibility it has to offer. And it seems like a reasonable time to make changes. For some people this works well. For most it’s an opportunity to feel like a failure for not keeping the resolutions. For the last few years I resolve to Hope instead.
Resolving to Hope will feel like making resolutions, but lacks all the guilt of unfulfilled resolutions. You see I have this problem, when I start to make goals I start to make goals in EVERYTHING! While goals are supposed to narrow your focus they instead make me think I can improve everything in life all at once. So I make a few zillion resolutions and within 1 hour I am overwhelmed and unable to keep my resolutions. Then follows the cycle of shame and self-recrimination for not keeping said resolutions.
A few years ago I was recreating the same list of resolutions I had made in past years and I got so sad. The feelings of failure hit me so hard I cried. That’s right, I cried about new years resolution making. I hadn’t even failed yet. I was crying before the actual diet cheat or the budget bust. While wiping the snotty mess off my face, (I am seriously the most disgusting crier) I realized how absolutely unhealthy making New Years Resolutions was to my mental well-being. The exact opposite of what I wanted.
I then resolved to hope.
Now every year I write down my hopes for the year. While resolutions need to be all those things that make goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), hopes can break all those rules. Sometimes what I “hope” to do this year is very specific, “attend temple twice a month”. Other times it is completely vague, “find more ways to connect with friends”. And that is perfectly acceptable. This is acceptable, because hopes keep the idea there in you mind without replacing all your daily efforts to live and stay alive.
Now How to Resolve to Hope
Pick several areas of your life to hope for
Resolutions, because you are working so diligently on them, require more time dedication. Hopes are the things you wanna work on when you have time and they don’t necessarily need to be narrowed down to the few you can actually fit in. I like to choose areas like: Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, Social, Financial, Professional, and Educational. (Are you seeing where my problem of making too many resolutions comes from). But you can do more or less this is a strictly “the way you want it” kind of thing.
Brainstorm some hopes for each area
This is the easiest part. Just start putting down things you want to improve in the area. This is so easy for me because I always see room for improvement in my life. The trick is keeping my perfectionism issues from making me a complete hot mess as I attempt to improve. That is why hopes are so much better.
Pick just one hope
This is much harder than step 2. While it is true that you can hope for a zillion things and it’s not a burden. The truth of the matter is, I want these hopes to actually seep into my brain and I can’t remember a list that is 40 items long. So pick jsut one hope for each area. Some years I have picked one hope and one backup hope. Some years I might hope, “to sell the house” but after a financial shift that option isn’t available to me any more, so a back up hope is there because it’s impossible to know what will occur in July when you are sitting in January. But the idea here is that simplify cause if you are like me you might just make this too complicated.
Put the hopes somewhere you can look at again throughout the year
This part is the key to making hopes a positive development in your life. Taking my hopes and reading them again each month helps to plant them in my mind. It’s surprising how our brains latch onto an idea and help you work toward them when you repeatedly see the idea and feel what you want with it.
Note: I used to write out this stuff, but now I keep my list in my Evernote account so I can quickly look at it when it pops up on my Todoist list (cause if it is isn’t in my calendar or my to do list it may as well not be happening in my life)
Then at the end of the year
Be kind yourself. Who cares if you hoped and you aren’t there yet. You probably won’t achieve all your hopes, and that is perfectly wonderful. Hoping is what keeps us moving forward. Some hopes will be achieved and that is perfect also. Hoping is something you can do and it doesn’t have failure or success. It’s hope. Hope springs eternal and this is even true of my yearly hopes.
I have loved my hopes list. And most of all I have loved looking at the list later in the year. I have come to realize that things I cared about on Jan 1st can be meaningless on July 31st. Proof that staying in the house for the winter creates a skewed sense of priority. Then again seeing a hope I had forgotten spurs me to try again. I don’t need one more way to find myself lacking so resolutions are out and hoping is in.
Remember NO GUILT when you hope but don’t achieve. You can always hope again next year. So resolve to hope for change or achievement or serenity.