Although it is not even February yet, many of my friends have already fallen off the New Year’s resolution wagon. They meant well, really, they did. They wanted to be students with 4.0 GPAs this semester and they wanted to start each morning at the gym and they wanted to be better spouses and friends. But when the magic of the holidays has passed, when the joy of being surrounded by family and food (and likely having time away from work) becomes another memory, we’re left with a life that demands too much from us.
It only takes one day of sleeping in to remember that, man, who in the world wants to go to the gym at five in the morning when you can sleep? And those kids that melted my heart on Christmas morning are actually throwing up on me and screaming through the grocery store and I feel terribly homicidal. And straight A’s in college are really cool, but D’s get degrees, right?
You see, life does demand a lot from us, but it doesn’t have to rule us. We have all the authority in the world to say “no” to the things that cripple us. Those things you feel obligated to do, the ones that serve no purpose other than to impress others or make you feel like a better person, should be kicked to the curb this year. If having a daily workout is life-giving to you, then by all means, work it. If you feel that you aren’t pursuing the career that you really wanted, and given that you have the means to change your path, finally chase those dreams that have kept you up at night.
In other words, stop using the New Year as an opportunity to further burden your already busy life. Instead, use the New Year to simplify. Perhaps one of the reasons that the Christmas season is so enchanting is because we choose to focus on the things that really matter. We find time to bake delicious treats, we attend parties, we spend time with the people who mean the most to us and it fills our cup. Although the holidays feel so busy, they’re actually very refreshing because we allow ourselves to do what we were always meant to do. We were created to be social beings that delight in relaxation and play after a hard day’s work.
This year, you have permission to politely say “no” to the people who want to pull you in a thousand directions. You are allowed to cancel that gym membership that you’ve only had for a month. You are even allowed to kiss poisonous friendships goodbye. You have permission to overlook the messy house until tomorrow and request a night of relaxation and rejuvenation. You’ve got one shot at life and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste it on things that do not bring me joy.