60. New Year’s Resolutions

Good morning and welcome to your sixtieth meditation. What should your New Year’s resolutions be? Some of us will have a very clear idea of all the wonderful things they want to accomplish this year, while others may be uncertain. But, whatever you do, don’t miss this opportunity to make a resolution or two. It’s easy enough to think that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions is both arbitrary and hackneyed, and to opt out of it on these grounds. But instead of critiquing this institutionalized form of self-improvement, why not just take advantage of any available opportunity to lead a more deeply considered and deliberate life?

So now that you’ve established that you will indeed make a resolution, what then to resolve? To figure that out, you have to figure out what it is that you want. And to figure that out you have to let your mind go free a bit. Get in a comfortable place where there are no distractions. Put your phone away and out of sight. Have a pen and a pad handy. Take some slow, deep breaths, close your eyes, and imagine your ideal life. Don’t be judgmental of any of your desires at this stage – there will be plenty of time to edit later. Just let those desires flow freely, however ridiculous or unrealistic they may seem.

Next step is to pick one or two or three of the elements of that image you created of your ideal life that, upon more scrupulous reflection, are of chief importance to you. And then, for each element of the fantasy, think what you could be doing right now to begin working toward that goal. Imagine yourself at the end of this year being a year closer to it. How did you get there? What did you have to do? What did you have to stop doing? If your goal is to buy something that seems way out of your price range, make a budget and a timeline based on how much you can afford to put away each month. Let’s say the thing you want most in the world is a grand piano worth $20,000, but you can’t imagine ever affording that. Well, let’s break it down. Let’s say you can manage to save an extra $300 a month by cutting down on the ordering in and expensive coffees. According to this budget, you would have your dream item in around five and half years. That’s not a lot of time to wait for the item of your dreams. What felt like a fantasy now seems very realistic. Now you just have to find a place to put it. A goal like learning the piano, or a language, is obviously much more difficult to quantify. And yet, you can use a similar approach. The Foreign Service Institute judges that it takes approximately 480 hours for a native English speaker to reach basic fluency in a language like French or Spanish. That means that if you can free up one hour each day for your fantasy goal of learning Spanish, you could be speaking Spanish in about one year and four months. 

Of course, just because New Year’s is a time when many people make resolutions doesn’t mean you have to confine your resolution-making to this date. Resolutions are an ongoing process and can and should be made and revised at any time. But this New Year, why not get started early? Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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