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I’m always a bit doubtful about New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of choosing specific practices to improve on and accomplish, but every January I start to wonder whether now is really the best time to do so. Is anything major in my life going to change overnight? Do I have a clear idea of how to make it happen? Keep this realistic, Sarah. You tried giving up sweets last year, and two days in you ate a chocolate bar while shopping for shoes online. So much for “new year, new you.”

While I think it’s great to see so many people working on their best selves this time of year, I’m a firm believer that resolutions need to be a year-round thing to be sustainable. If you want to make a meaningful adjustment in your routine, don’t set January 1st as the starting point with no room for failure along the way. Change is inherently dynamic, and serious change takes time, devotion and usually a whole lot of messing up (or in my case, consuming entire bars of chocolate with abandon). I’ve been trying to live into this mindset of embracing gradual changes in my life, so this year I rang in the new year without much thought as to what kind of habits I resolved to dismiss.

Then this morning I went hiking with my friend Jonny. We haven’t seen each other in months, so we did the usual bit of catching up and started talking about goals and intentions for 2018. Jonny is one of these people with a real talent for perceiving truth in others and helping them see it for themselves, and I was rambling on about how I needed to commit to some changes when he said something that really resonated.

“I feel like if you’re going to get back in touch with what matters to you, you need to refine your sense of focus.”

The truth is, my brain has been all over the place lately. One of the biggest things I feel like I’ve lost sight of is the act of intentionally choosing whom and what to allow onto center stage in my life. I’m harder on myself than I should be in regards to this, but as I was telling Jonny, I often feel like life is happening to me while I’m sitting helplessly in the passenger seat. Some of this is par for the course with being 23 years old–it’s hard to take charge of your future when so much around you exists in a state of transition. But that being said, I miss feeling like I was in touch with the pieces of life that make me Sarah–what matters to me, who inhabits my brain space and what kind of life I’m working on living.

I want that kind of intention back. I need it as much as my breathing lungs need oxygen. So here’s my resolution for the year, written out for the world to see:

I promise to exhale the things in my life that are not serving anyone for the better. I promise not to hold on too tightly to ideas and notions that are not constructive. I promise to remember that at the end of the day I seek work and relationships that nourish my soul. 

I promise to focus, in January and July and December and fifty years down the road. This kind of work isn’t happening overnight. But what I do want to remember is that I can be an active player in my story, just as you can be in yours. What are you letting go of today, and what are you claiming as your own?


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