Anyone who has read my first column of the year for the past seven years knows how I feel about New Year’s resolutions.
Essentially, I find that most resolutions amount to unrealistic goals that set up folks for failure.
For example, you decide that the best way to improve your life is a six-day-a-week gym routine that alternates between strength training and cardio workouts. This schedule works well for exactly one week. Week two you decide that having weekends off might not be a bad idea; after all, you’ve read at least six articles online that say that working out more than five times a week might be dangerous.
Week three, an impossible to blow off, early morning breakfast meeting knocks your gym days down to four. The following week, that extra cup of coffee in the morning keeps you in bed just long enough to throw you into work panic, ergo you miss yet another gym session (most likely the cardio).
Week five you get the Visa bill for the full-year gym pass you purchased on Dec. 29 to maintain your commitment to greater fitness. Sadly, you have given up on the six-day week plan. By the end of the year, you realize you have used your gym pass a total of 26 times, resulting in a per use rate of $20.50.
At least this has been my experience, and with far less ambitious fitness goals, creative goals and general life goals.
This year I think I’ve found a way to achieve these perennial goals. I’ve decided to say yes. This is not a particularly radical or innovative move; after all, it’s been the premise of a Jim Carey movie.
Last fall, I decided to start saying yes. For the better part of a decade, one of my favourite neighbours has invited us over for a post-Halloween drinks around the fire event. Cold and tired from handing out candy to 400 kids, I’d usually decline. This year I decided to do something different, I said yes.
Sadly, you have given up on the six-day week plan.
That simple yes has resulted in three great things happening in my life. One, I’ve gotten to know my neighbour a little bit better — and at her suggestion, I’ve addressed one of my greatest fears: attending a yoga class. The idea of being in a room full of perfectly toned, perfectly balanced, Lululemon-clad bodies capable of twisting themselves into a pretzel and holding that pose for 35 minutes scared the hell out of out-of-shape, arthritic me.
Now, I’m four sessions into a restorative yoga class that’s already increased my flexibility and general mellowness. (Thank you, Annette Wiltse, Christy Hess and Kulu.)
Twenty-five years ago, I wrote and published short stories. I had a couple of ideas for novels, and the bones for a screenplay. Then I ended up being a working writer and the purely creative work fell away, my focus shifting to commercial and corporate work. When fellow Question columnist, Lisa Richardson, asked me to join a small writing group, I didn’t even consider how much criticism freaks me out and said, you guessed it, “Yes!” I’m not sure about the exclamation mark, but I know I felt more enthusiastic than fearful.
Saying yes has introduced me to something new and re-opened something old, both of which have the potential to change my life. I think it’s cool that neither developing a yoga practice nor committing to a first draft novel were on the map for 2018 but staked their claim because I simply grabbed onto an opportunity as presented.
I have no idea if I will ever Downward Dog successfully or if I will publish a major piece of fiction but I know it’s possible. And it’s in exploring the possibilities that makes life interesting.
Say yes to a happy, healthy and more much more interesting 2018. Happy New Year.