As the first complete week of the new year of 2016 has come to a close, I am pondering in my usual overthinking kind of way, about all of this talk of resolutions and goal setting. I am one of those people, who set a new list of goals each year, but I have learned that the best way to look at goals and resolutions is to take them one at a time and make them a lifelong process, rather than a 12 month mission. More importantly, they really have to be your own genuine mission.
As usual and on the dot, gym memberships, losing weight, quitting bad habits, quitting bad people, etc. are all over the television and radio stations. I just have to wonder why so many people set the same resolutions each year starting on January 1st. I’ve done it too so I am by no means throwing any stones, just observing that growing into a healthier, happier, and more balanced person is really a daily, monthly, yearly, and lifelong journey. And ultimately when we take a deeper look at the similar resolutions that our culture sets, isn’t that what we’re all striving for?
For days I’ve had the old Joni Mitchell song “Circle Game” whirling in my head, and realized that as cliche as it may seem, things do tend to circle back around to their beginnings. What we do with the information we gather on our journey is entirely up to us. That’s the tricky part, and that’s where the resolutions come in. I think we love the idea that a new year is a clean slate; a nice time frame that everyone in the world shares and connects with, allowing us to “start over”. We want to hit the reset button on all of the past year’s (or years of) mistakes, heartaches, pains, bad choices, and make a new beginning. We want to give a new chance to the dreams we lost or passed up, or that maybe just haven’t come true yet. Lovely idea, but if I’ve learned anything from these last few years of passionate goal setting and resolving, it’s that all of those ghosts will still haunt you from time to time.
The key is to put the ghosts in their place. Joni explained what we all know in our hearts, “We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came”. Learn from them all- the good and the bad and accept that all of us are bouncing up and down on our carousels in a whirling circle. We all get excited and joyful, maybe a little dizzy and motion sick, but we’re all holding on looking for the golden hoop or the finish line. The fact is though, that even if you find the golden hoop and grab it, you’re still on the ride until it’s done. So dreaming and setting goals is great! I am in fact a huge advocate of both. I encourage striving forward and dreaming big. The world would be a boring ride indeed if no one ever did.
I am simply encouraging you to not only resolve to accomplish new things, or finish things you resolved last year (we all have those too),but to enjoy your carousel. Paint your horses in beautiful bold and vivid colors. Keep holding on tight even when exhaustion strikes. Really look at the smiling faces around you and hold onto them. Reach for the hoop and if you miss, reach again. And if you get that shiny golden ring; enjoy the moment and keep circling with new dreams in your heart. That’s what really starts to quiet the ghosts.
I love that at the end of her song, Joni eloquently addresses that somewhere along the way from that joyful expectant childhood our lives lose some of the luster. Things change- our perspective most of all. But it’s still not the end. “There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, plenty of new dreams before the last revolving year is through”.
So if you haven’t set your New Year’s resolution(s) yet because you have forgotten how to dream or hope, or if you think its too late, please know that it’s not. And if you have set your new goals and they feel too small, please give yourself a chance to hope bigger. Whatever you do, make them yours and yours alone. Don’t surrender to what culture says should be the typical cycle of New Year’s resolutions and missions. Circle back to the you that had the big dreams and hopes and start over. Hit the reset button and kick out the ghosts holding you back. This is your ride, your painted pony and it’s not over yet.