New Year, Same Me—And No Resolutions

By Alana Siebenaler-Ransom

There is something about this time of year that makes me a little sad. On the one hand, people are eager to say good-bye to the old year. Though I understand it has been a particularly challenging one, I see all kinds of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” posts. This mindset seems defeatist to me.

On the other hand, people are eager to set New Year’s resolutions. I love the optimism, when setting resolutions, that this will be THE year. I love that people are focused on personal growth and discipline.

That said, the cult of living your best life does not serve my flavor of Kool-Aid. This optimistic mindset seems equally defeatist when set against the statistics that only 10% of resolutions are kept.

I guarantee you that my dear BRF (best running friend) is spending her New Year’s Day making her bullet journal look like a work of art, setting mileage goals for 2021, and laying out a life plan for the entire year to come. I envy her ability to plan and execute, and I love it: for two years in a row, I've been with her when she hit 1,000 miles.

I would, quite literally, accomplish 50% less in my life without her.

My challenge is this: Consistency and discipline are my Achilles heel. They always have been. It took me many years to learn this about myself and even more years to respect it. I envy those of you who follow your training plans like a cat follows a laser pointer. This is just not who I am. I am every bit an “it’s a journey, not a destination” kind of woman.

Instead of grand proclamations around this time of year, I do two things all year long:

First, I strive for incremental progress. It is the only way I know how to function. I try to think of each day as a chance to start again. Mondays are my personal New Year’s Day: everything seems fresh and new. I have 52 of them, and that pace is perfect.

During quarantime, I’ve tackled the big things in small ways: my pantry got a makeover; I’ve cooked more in the past ten months than I have in years; I ran a 50k 24-hour race and a half-marathon in one mile increments every hour; and I’m slowly (molto, molto s-l-o-w-l-y) learning Italian.

But every one of these things was a decision at a point in time. I did not make a resolution at the beginning of April to purge my entire house of clutter; I decided one day to start working on the pantry and two weeks later it was a new room. I set no goal in January 2020 to run an ultra-marathon, but when the craziness of the pandemic set in and positive peer-pressure did its job, a 24-hour race sounded like a great idea. I have met more goals that I never set by being open to what might be and embracing opportunity.

Second, I set a word or phrase for the year—and then remember it. If you’re not familiar with this idea, you choose a word that is your guidepost.

This works better for me than any kind of resolution for several reasons – the most important of which is that I love words. 2018, the first year I chose a phrase of the year, was a year of great transformation for me.

My phrase? Seek Rejection. I sought all kinds of rejection which paid off brilliantly. And it made me brave: When your driver is to be rejected on the regular, getting rejected doesn’t seem so daunting. (2019 was Foundation, which is ironic since it crumbled after two months.)

In hindsight, 2020 was a good year to not have a word, unless of course that word was adapt or stay home or #firstglobalpandemic. If I could set a word retroactively, it would be Grateful.

Credit: Flying Edna

With 2021 on the horizon and no plans for world domination or a sub-two-hour half marathon, my word found me. Enough is my word for 2021.

Because that’s all we have and all we need, isn’t it? Enough.

8 responses to “New Year, Same Me—And No Resolutions

  1. Just this morning on my run I realized it was Monday which I also treat as a new starting point every time I fall off of any of the proverbial wagons I have gotten on (ie weight loss, eating better, not swearing, etc…)I jump right back on the next Monday for a new go at it.
    Thank you for the “word” idea. My word might be “deal” Some days you have to deal with the bad stuff and some days you get to deal with the good stuff. I’m going to try to deal with it all!

  2. “I have met more goals that I never set by being open to what might be and embracing opportunity”. This sentence and outlook is perfection. Thank you, thank you for sharing your insight and experience!

  3. Such a helpful and freeing post! My word for 2021 is JOY. Just looking to smile and share hope to those whose world has been so hard in 2020. And looking forward to meeting up with you again lin MN, Alana!

  4. Fantastic thoughts and reflection. You are enough. I am enough. It is enough. My word this year is ENDURE, which has so many layers of meaning that I know I’ll never tire of it.

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