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Yoda’s Advice – Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Filed under blog
goal-free living

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want more advice about how to be my best (better) self in 2017. 

I don’t want to pick a “word” of the year. 

I don’t want to write a long list of goals and stick it on a vision board.

I don’t want to read about how someone reflected deeply on the good things in their lives and made yet another record of it they’ll probably never look at again.

I don’t want to write everything I’m grateful for in a journal.

I’m tired of everything getting catalogued and turned into a “thing.”

Am I grateful? 

Of course. I have rituals I do everyday, but I don’t go nattering on and on about them. 

Am I reflecting on what’s good in my life and what I want to change. Yes. And I do this daily, not one time bunched up when a another year threatens to be over.

There’s so much talking “around” all this stuff and very little doing of it.

Yoda says, “No try. Do.”

So, if this is to be your year, what about starting it out by forgetting about “finding your passion” and instead allowing yourself to be drawn by curiosity, like Elizabeth Gilbert suggests.

new year's resolutions

Don’t follow your passion

So, if this is to be your year, what about doing what one of my favorite singers Patti Smith does? When her husband and brother passed on and she was lost creatively, she had a notion and picked up her dead husband’s Polaroid camera one day and photographed a pair of Nureyev’s practice shoes that she had purchased. She put some mosquito netting over them, snapped a shot and got a jolt of satisfaction. She continued taking pictures of things that intrigued her. Hesse’s typewriter, Rimbaud’s spoon and fork, Brancusi’s grave. And these simple quests took her on adventures all over the world and gave her a new sense of purpose. When asked why she choose this path she joked, what am I going to do? “It feels stupid to go on a singles cruise.”

Follow a whim and have an adventure

Smith exemplifies Yoda and Gilbert’s advice. She just kept following her curiosity and enjoying the adventure.

On Christmas eve in Philadelphia my five-year-old niece Emily showed me the entire deaf alphabet she learned from a Youtube video on her own. Why? Because it intrigued her.

So, what have you done that has drawn you in, Susan Harrow, you might ask? 

This year was more about what I was not doing, than doing. A stripping away.

I focused inward instead of outward. 

I stopped doing most joint ventures.

I stopped doing Facebook Ads.

I’ve stopped scrolling through social media.

I stopped subscribing to magazines and E-zines I no longer read.

I stopped eating soy and dairy (not by choice, these).

What did I do more of?

I met more friends for lunch. I took a few mini vacations and weekends with girlfriends to write and relax. I’ve taught some classes in Aikido. Now I’ll teach one monthly and am working on being a better teacher. I hired a mentor to teach me how to license my courses. The first one, True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls is up and ready to go. 

I read more books. Here are the two  that have moved me most. 

When I was despondent about not accomplishing enough writing I picked up this book.

I went to Hawaii and played tennis every day for the first time in 10 years and sweated like a wrestler (oh my aching knees!)

And took this video of captive penguins that made me sad for their cramped quarters and not being free.

Visited Longwood gardens and thanked Pierre Dupont for saving precious parks and preserving all kinds of plants.

I cuddled up every Saturday night with my sweetie to have a homemade dinner and watch some intriguing show. My current fascination? Goliath. It’s seedy, smart, funny. 

Don’t make new year’s resolutions

I’ve been throwing things away. Getting rid of clothes that I don’t adore. Following the simple principle from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up that if it doesn’t bring me joy give it away or throw it out. I love paper so my huge collection of cards and stationary makes my head spin. I still have far to go, but I’m keeping at it. 

I’m determined to buy less and experience more. 

In my business I am doing less and making more. 

I’m still figuring out how to streamline, what to let go and what to keep. I’m cooking up something new so take a peek in your inbox in next month or so.

Not everything is peachy.

I landed on my neck from a throw in Aikido and rushed to the emergency room for X-Rays. Practically lived at the chiropractors for a month. I’ve been super sick with the flu and sinus infection, which turned out to be a cracked, abscessed tooth and had to have root canal and a cap, which all made me super crabby pants – and delayed all the plans I had to catch up on everything over the holiday.

I reached out to an estranged friend and we are making tentative gestures to meet for coffee.

I still sometimes have the sick feeling that I’m “behind.” There’s so much I want to do before I die, and who knows how much time left?

What I do know is that I’m not waiting to speak my mind for any injustice or to take action for things I believe in. I donated to Moveon.org. I regularly sign and send petitions to the people who represent me to preserve clean water, stop sexual slavery, get proper labeling for genetically modified foods and more. A friend just told me about how I can get simple scripts to read so I can now call politicians to voice what I’m against and what I’m for. I’ll be doing that too.

Morihei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido says, “I feel what you feel but you name it fear; I name it a call to action.”

So whatever you believe in, whatever you want to do. Take some small action to make it so and take to heart the advice of Roopleen, “If you have a dream, don’t just sit there. Gather courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.”

Some more things to ponder and take action on in the new year?


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