Self

An Actual New Year’s Resolution

Photo: hedgehog94 / Shutterstock
woman holding sparkler

In 1999 I resolved to do a Taebo workout tape every day. Fueled by the exciting, tipsy, happy-hour vibe of December — it seemed like a good idea. And I didn’t even make it to February.

Lots of us have just stopped making resolutions at all. Choosing to express gratitude instead. But maybe there is a glimmer of loss in that choice. Like, we miss it?

So what is it that fuels our collective longing for a New Year, a new you declaration? Even if we don’t totally believe it. What makes us want to keep trying?

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I think it’s Kairos time. Chronos time is our Gregorian calendar and our clock. Kairos is a Greek word that describes the spirit of the time. I think of it as the place where kids live before they know how to read clocks. The place when we feel things happening and experience them just as they are — the right time when things happen without our contriving.

And this time of year, whether you are in the dark and cold Northern Hemisphere or the sunshiny, Southern warm places — we are all at the halfway part of the year. The solstice is a natural time to stop. To reflect. To consider where you were and what you did. And what you might want to do differently for the next half.

We are animals that belong to this world. Pausing to reflect back and look ahead is a natural instinct. We feel the halfway point of the solstice in our body. A declaration to join the gym on January 1st is an expression of this instinct distorted by culture.

This strategy is out of sync with what our body is really asking for. When viewed through the prism of Capitalism, a longing to care for ourselves better gets translated into buying a gym membership. Paying for a membership, and even going to the gym every day can have little to do with learning to care for ourselves better.

And we are living in times of radical change.

These changes are happening inside of us and outside of us. Changing how we want to conceive of and relate to our work, families, and ourselves.

And as we live into this wobbly new world with our new ways of thinking — what we find ourselves doing instead are things that feel right in our bodies. We can anchor ourselves in things that feel right in our bodies. And that is never just one strategy like going to the gym.

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For me, it happened at the last full moon of 2021. I set my intention like I always do. Which was to release perfectionism. I wrote a little note on a scrap of paper. Which said: I release perfectionism, and I burned it.

I will renew this on New Year’s Eve. Probably after we put the kids to bed. My husband and I will reflect on our year, and what we loved, and what we want to do more of next year. And I will consider how I can be freer of perfectionism within those plans and ideas.

We don’t have to stop following the Gregorian calendar to experience Kairos time. The idea is not that we need to choose one or the other.

The idea is to remember that both are happening. And that we made up Gregorian time to help us, not to imprison us. And that the right time, or unmeasurable Kairos time, just happens. We can ignore it, but we cannot stop it from happening.

And I believe that right now, at this intersection of Chronos and Kairos time that we celebrate as New Year’s can be the right time for each of us to consider our part.

What is coming up in the field of your life that is part of the radical changes we need in culture? For me, it’s perfectionism. It is showing up everywhere in my life. My clients are talking about it. I’m feeling it in myself and how I relate to my partner. And it’s particularly excruciating to see it in how I relate to my kids and my role as a parent.

For you, maybe it’s boundaries. Maybe asking for what you want and need is showing up everywhere? With your ex, your tinder date, friends, and your parents? Or maybe it’s imposter syndrome for you.

Maybe standing in your authentic voice is being invited from you everywhere you look. Maybe you feel it in your new job, with your partner, your old friends, and inside your own body as you confront an autoimmune disorder diagnosis.

When we disrupt how our culture lives inside of us, that culture also gets disrupted around us.

When you learn how to hold a more healthy and loving boundary with your ex, that radically improves your quality of life. That same choice also changes the experience your kids and your ex are having, and who knows how that spirals out from there. When you stand in your authentic voice, it feels good. And everyone around you feels that. And maybe they are inspired. And who knows what that leads to.

When I let it go, and prioritize staying connected with my daughter rather than getting the cookies just right — that gets in the cookies. That changes how we show up when we deliver them to the neighbors. 

And when I get hooked back into getting it right despite my best efforts to let it go, and I embrace even that imperfection with compassion, humility, and love. That impacts how my daughter might or might not make cookies with her kids at Christmas.

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There is no them. Only us. We get that now.

There is no silver bullet. No philanthropic program can get us to the other side of capitalism, patriarchy, colonization, and white supremacy. There is no vaccine for our climate crisis. There is no finish line when we will be suddenly done with COVID. It’s just each of us, doing our personal part.

In the slog, and the shit, and blooming of the lotus. Step by step. That is how we move towards a world we all want to live in. The more just, equitable, and loving world that works for all of us. That world needs each of us doing our part.

So as you approach this New Year according to Chronos time, I invite you to remember Kairos. That thing you feel in your guts. That part knows what leadership the world is inviting and needing from you — that leadership that you also want to give.

“What you seek is seeking you”

~Rumi

Meghann McNiff is an Integral Professional Coach. Check out www.integralcoachcollective.com.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.