I was thinking the other night about the only New Years resolution I remember keeping. I mean, I nailed in a satisfying way we rarely get as grownups, or ever, really. I was 11, and I decided that my New Years resolution would be to start brushing my teeth at night before I went to bed. At the time, I hated brushing my teeth. After I spit out the grainy taste of mint, I would immediately gulp down orange juice.
But I kept that resolution, and I still brush my teeth at night to this day … except when I’m too tired and I get in late.
In honor of what I learned from this, that resolutions should be simple, specific and actionable, I present you with my three resolutions. Which are not simple, specific actionable. But, that is the life of a New Yorker, isn’t it? We’re always overreaching.
1. Cultivate Relationships with Good People
Have you ever found yourself in a friendship or relationship where you’re justifying? “Well, he has amazing taste in music; my Spotify playlist is so much better with him around.” Or, “She helped me out once and that was so sweet.” But eventually, you realize you’re not doing anyone favors by keeping it alive. You’re teaching that person it’s OK to be a flake and self-absorbed, and you’re undermining your own happiness and kindness by continuing to hang out with that person.
So this year I’m going to focus on relationships with people. If it is true that you are the five people you spend the most time with, I’m going to choose those people carefully. They are going to be kind, authentic, creative, intelligent people. It’s going to be hard. I’m not in a relationship, and my best friend just moved to Europe. I am going to have the strength to refuse to fill my weekend nights with people I don’t truly admire just for the sake of having them filled. But I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you create space, and stay true to yourself, good people will move in to occupy your world.
Action Steps: Reach out to people I truly admire. Turn down invitations to events with people I don’t.
2. Practice Authenticity
After a hard Friday night, when I found out the guy I had been dating–and for all intents and purposes had been treating me like a girlfriend, I mean, he invited me on a double-date dinner party and a day hiking trip–didn’t want a relationship, I got really down on myself.
I was rescued by a heart-to-heart with one of my best friends. And he told me something. He said, “You seem like different people at different times. Sometimes you are totally nonmaterialistic and genuine, with your heart in the right place. Sometimes it seems like you care a lot about status.” And I realized he was right. I’m always fiddling with the music so I can trot out an obscure song that no one recognizes and hence no one actually enjoys. I love one liners and zingers. I collect experiences with the intent of sharing them like trophies. Come on, Alden.
So this year I’m going to practice simplicity in my life. I’m going to do things because they are right in that moment, put on music that everyone can enjoy together, and find a guy who is right for me because he is him, not because he has a good bio (artist-living-in-Brooklyn, hedge-fund-guy-living-in-FiDi, Buckley-graduate-turned-DJ-in-Harlem … yes, those are all actual guys I’ve dated).
Action Steps: Practice mindfulness in my interactions with people. Always ask myself why I’m doing something. Is it to impress? Or to just enjoy the moment?
3. Treat My Body With Respect
When we’re young, we act as though our body is a utilitarian vehicle that transports us through our life. We accumulate dings on our psyche and our health during all-nighters, gross binges, and reckless drama-fests. But I can’t sell this body on Craiglist and buy a new one. What I do to it you can see, both in the bags under my eyes and the irritation in my voice.
I’m going to eat healthfully. Locally when I can, organic when I can, and mindfully always. I’m going to continue to do yoga, and try to do it more often. I’m going to take delicious afternoon naps, prioritize sleep over reading blogs, avoid sugar, and brush my teeth before I go to bed. I’m going to smile more and snap less.
Action steps: Take opportunities to go to bed early as just that: golden opportunities. Visit the farmers market more often. Put yoga on the schedule.
But first, I’m going to stay up all night on New Years. Duh.