When I found my old resolutions from 2012 (when EcoCult didn't exist yet; I wrote it for its precursor, Clean Hippie) and 2014, I closed one eye to click on them. I was worried I would find something embarrassing.
I was relieved when I read them. I realized that I wanted the same things then that I want now. It's like how when you crack open your diaries from five years ago, you realize you were trying to work through the same shit. You just forgot and are working through it again, dressed up in a different context.
My 2012 resolutions – cultivate relationships with good people, practice authenticity, treat my body with respect – and my 2014 resolutions – meditate every day, go to the farmers market every week, travel somewhere cool – were and are worthy goals.
I didn't "accomplish" all of them, of course. Yes, I traveled someplace cool; became more confident in discovering and staying true to my quirky, dorky, weird self; and ate more healthfully than ever. I didn't make it to the farmer's market every week, mainly because I now live across the river from the four-days-a-week Union Square farmer's market that makes that possible. I attacked the problem of daily meditation in fits and starts. And cultivating relationships with good people? Well ...
That's been a hard one for me. The past three years have been so exciting, as I avail myself of New York City's best resource: a diversity of people. I've met literally hundreds of fascinating, beautiful, intelligent, international, kind people. And like with NYC restaurants and museums and parties, it's been a struggle to come to terms with the fact that I can't do it all.
I can't cultivate meaningful relationships with all the people I like, anymore than I can visit every hot restaurant, or see every interesting exhibition. But I've certainly tried.
I'm not alone in this regard. Any New Yorker will tell you that 60% of our text messages deal simply with the logistics of meeting up, and another 20% are the messages we send canceling or saying we can't attend (LOL), often for perfectly good reasons: our other friend has a birthday party or going-away party the same day. Our work is crazy. We have pricey concert tickets. We're sick. We must attend this networking event. We're wrecked from the night before. It's raining. (Not kidding, that was a mutual decision between a friend and I this spring. We did manage to reschedule eventually.)
That is all to say I still want to cultivate meaningful relationships with good people. I'm just refining my strategy a bit this year. So without further ado, my three resolutions for 2016:
1. I will choose quality over quantity in all things.
Lately I've been feeling a bit bombarded. Emails, Facebook messages, Whats app, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook comments – sometimes I know someone told me something, but I can't remember through which digital medium they told me. And then I feel guilty for not answering and giving them a full and enthusiastic response. But I can't, because there are 25 other people I'm trying to give my full and enthusiastic attention to.
Facebook wants you to gather up more and more friends, and never let them go. It makes you a relationship hoarder.
I've had no problem with letting go of destructive people and habits. It's the "meh" things that are so hard. There are a lot of people in my life (and Facebook feed) that are perfectly nice. They're smart and kind and they're doing great things. But I can't fit them all in my headspace. I can't attend all their parties, promote all their products, or have one-on-one time with all of them to get to know them. If it weren't for Facebook, I would hardly remember meeting them. But Facebook wants you to gather up more and more friends, and never let them go. It makes you a relationship hoarder.
I want to make more room for those people that pluck my soul's strings, making me vibrate with happiness during conversation with them.
It goes both ways. I know I'm also guilty of cluttering others' headspace as well with my own event invitations and messages. I don't want to be part of the problem.
I'm going to curate my life this year. I'm going to apply my sustainable wardrobe concept to people: quality over quantity. I want to make more room for those people that pluck my soul's strings, making me vibrate with happiness during conversation with them. And I want to gently let go of the people who are cool and nice, but don't connect with me on a deeper level.
I was speaking to a friend last weekend about how we feel besieged by friendly and well-meaning requests and it's stretching us thin and making us irritable. We realized be had both separately created a Facebook group of our favorite people. I don't want to leave Facebook (I use it for EcoCult and I'm part of a couple great professional Facebook groups), but I've also unfollowed a lot of people so they aren't in my feed, and blocked invitations from a lot of people.
I know this might come off as mean, but it's sort of necessary with technology being where it is. Keeping up with every nice person you've met was possible when that involved only hanging out with people in your town, then "looking up" friends when you visited their city. Now we've got 1,000 friends to congratulate when they get married or have a baby or pass the bar. And that is a lot. And it takes away from building deeper relationships.
This is just another modern form of self-care, of taking care of my mind and emotions so that I can give my full, happy self to people I care about.
2. I will cut sugar out.
High fructose corn syrup? No. Soda? Never. Red meat? Once in a blue moon, and only if it's grass fed and local.
I'm feeling pretty good. I feel like I'm at my natural weight, and I climb my five flights of stairs to my apartment with ease. But I still feel sort of tired sometimes. And I still get head colds. To level up on my health the next thing to go will be sugar, a ubiquitous ingredient that not only is unnecessary nutritionally, but is borderline toxic.
If you have an hour, watch this viral, science-based lecture on the topic. Sugar is an empty, addictive calorie that messes with our physiology, contributing to obesity, heart disease, and ugly teeth, according to the Mayo Clinic. It could also dull and wrinkle the skin. And sugar also limits our ability to taste a range of flavors, especially from real food. I want to enjoy my farmer's market food!
I've actually noticed that I get the sniffles just one day after eating too much processed, sugary food. So no more of that.
Sugar is going out the window. Fruit, cheese, and espresso instead of dessert. Unsweetened beverages instead of sweetened. Nuts instead of protein bars. Wine and beer instead of cocktails. Homemade sauces instead of store-bought ones. I'll read ingredients on everything I buy to scan for sugar – it's a sneaky little ingredient. And I'll break my addiction to sugar once and for all.
3. I will create a routine.
When trying to come up with my third resolution, I ran my mind through several things I wanted to do this year, trying to pick just one. I want to get to bed early at the same time on weekdays (and sometimes weekends, too) and get up at the same early time. I want to meal plan using a stable of easy and healthy recipes, and go grocery shopping once a week. I want to do the same thing every weekday morning: sun salutation, make tea, meditate, work on my book, work on freelance stuff, work on on the blog, get a workout in. I want to do the same workouts on the same day every week. And I want to be predictable at night, too: meet up with a friend or attend an event, go home, make tea, journal, pamper my skin with the same beauty products, go to bed.
And I realized, they all fall under the umbrella of creating a routine. Sounds boring, but routine is the way we make space in our heads for tackling the intellectually challenging stuff. And it makes sure we reach those goals that require sustained effort day in and day out, like eating healthy and meditating.
I can save the excitement for once a week on the weekends, or for vacations. But in 2016, I'm going to get real boring. And I'm excited for it.
See More Sustainable and Ethical Resolutions!
My friends at the Ethical Writers Coalition have also shared their resolutions today. Explore all the ways they want to improve their lives next year and get inspired:
- Holly Rose of Leotie Lovely's #GoneGreen2016: 365 Days of Simple Sustainable Suggestions
- Elizabeth Stilwell of The Note Passer's My One Big Resolution for 2016
- Faye Lessler of Sustaining Life's Shedding Layers for a Mindful 2016
- Hanna Baror-Padilla of Sotela's Why Making Unresolutions Are Better
- Andrea Plell of Ecologique's Bye 2016
- Annie Zhu's My 2016 Resolution: Only Buy Ethically Made Fashion
- Kamea Cheng's 4 Resolutions you Need for a Meaningful 2016
- Leah Wise of Style Wise's Year in Review & Ethical Resolutions
- Hannah Theisen of Life+Style+Justice's Resolutions.
- Kasi Martin of The Peahen's Year of Wardrobe Resolutions
- Sara Weinreb of Necessary Trouble
Do any of these resolutions speak to you? What are your resolutions for the New Year? Let me know in the comments!