The New Year is the time when resolutions are made for personal goals meant to improve one’s life. For some Lent is another time for big change through sacrifice. There are many cultural and religious traditions that have within them some ritual or practice meant to focus on betterment–to become more aware, more deliberate, more devout, just more.
How often have you heard about failed resolutions or failed sacrifices? The diets cheated on or the exercise program forsaken? It was all or nothing, and one laps or deviation made the entire effort meaningless.
There is talk of strength and weakness. The strong can resist temptation and are masters of restraint. The weak buckle under pressure and give in to impulse.
This has been the focus of my meditations of late as I’ve tried to find more balance in my life. I am many things to many people, and yet I am not who I wish to be to myself. I am not entirely unhappy, but there is this niggling that comes from within nudging me to do better, be better.
I have been meditating on the decisions I make, and how they effect my efforts to achieve my goals. I’ve been meditating on my goals, on whether they are truly beneficial in my personal commitment to be better. I’ve been meditating on how my decisions help me relate to others or how they have hurt my relationships. Every choice comes with rewards and consequences. Every step taken down one path leads you farther away from another. Some doors closed, cannot be opened again.
The fruit of knowledge is bittersweet.
I’m finding that the more I meditate on it that my life is too big. I can look back at my past, and I can speculate at my future. But I am here in the now for a brief moment. I have gained enough wisdom through experience to have a better idea of what I want, but there are no guarantees that I will get it. I cannot change my life with a declaration of intent to do or sacrifice, I can only change my life one decision at a time.
For example, I want to be healthier. There are many ways to achieve this through more exercise, better eating habits, cutting out what is bad, and any number of other lifestyle changes. There are articles and advise a plenty, but finding the right combination to fit me while also challenging myself…well, that isn’t so easily managed. I am not one to follow a plan made by someone else. I prefer to tailor my own.
However, though I prefer to tailor my own plan, I also like to leave latitude for modification and alteration. So while I have a plan, I treat it more as a set of guidelines. This allows me to weigh each decision without ruining everything. If I want to have a cookie it isn’t an automatic no, and if I decide it is a yes in that moment it does not mean that I have given up on my desire to be healthier. And having the cookie isn’t cheating because my plan allows me the occasional cookie.
All or nothing may work for some, but for me I prefer moderation. Moderation allows me to focus on the moment, which is where I make my decisions.