Last year I vowed to not make any New Year’s resolutions. It worked well and I managed to accomplish all sorts of things while resolving absolutely nothing. However, with the turning of another year (and the fact that I survived the prophesied end of the world…thanks Mayans,) I find myself reflecting on where my life’s path has taken me and where I’d like to journey next.
The only problem is that those kinds of reflections often send me into a spiral of “should haves” or white-knuckle-life-changing strategies that never seem to work out. I’ve discovered that when I focus on what I want instead of what I should want or don’t want, I take much bigger leaps forward in life, at least from a satisfaction and happiness perspective. Little hunches and whims have carried me far, from my job to yoga to writing a children’s book to most of my closest friends. Following supposed “flights of fancy” often takes my life in new directions I didn’t perceive at the outset, directions that often seem unrelated to the initial “purpose” or point of the activity. Inevitably, I find myself in situations that I would have chosen for myself in hindsight. but if I’d set out to arrive at my destination I never would have been able to plan the haphazard, jaunty path whimsy set before me as the quickest path to “happy”.
So this year, when I found myself trying to design some sort of new “project” for my life or to structure my growth towards a defined goal, a little voice inside resisted. Every idea I played around with didn’t seem right until this one: Do what makes me happy. In Joseph Campbell’s more eloquent words: Follow your bliss.
I find myself in the fortunate position of liking my job and the person I live with (two big criterions for happiness), and I have several good friends….so I’m starting out this little project ahead of the game, probably thanks to all those whims I’ve already followed over the last decade of my life. But now I give myself permission to pursue this sort of happiness path with gusto and enthusiasm. In the past the “shoulds” have stopped me, but no longer.
I’m no fool. I know there will be all sorts of things I have to do that might not be my preference in the moment. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my free time, the people I associate with, the projects I devote myself to. I’m talking about filling my life with even more beauty and joy and playfulness than I’ve allowed in so far, and seeing where it takes me.
First stop? A new haircut on Saturday. When I told my daughter that I’ve wanted bangs for the longest time but haven’t gotten them she looked at me with total confusion. “Why wouldn’t you do something that you’ve wanted to do for so long?” I didn’t have a good answer for her and hopefully, I won’t be asking myself that question much longer.
Here’s to a year of pursuing passion and talking to owls (my term for trusting and listening to your inner voice.)