Why I'm Taking On 2014 Resolution-less

(I first published this article on Medium in December 2013. It was picked up and adapted for posts on Women2.0 and idonethis.)

This fall I completed my first 200-hour yoga instructor certification. I won’t bore you with all the details of how amazing the experience was, but instead I’d like to share one of the prevailing ideas I walked away with. I think it’s quite timely as we start the new year. The idea is simply this: You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

As every year comes to a close our society has this habit of “resolving”. We look back on the year that has passed, dissect it to extract all that hasn’thappened, and use what we’ve identified to craft our “New Year’s Resolutions”. Next year we will do these things. Next year will be better than last year because we’ll make up for its shortcomings, plus some.

A quick anecdote: I was chatting with an instructor before class one day about halfway through my eight-week certification. She asked how training was going and I rattled off a few sentences about the classes, assignments and readings I hadn’t done yet. Then I rattled off a few more about what I’d do in the weeks ahead to get back on track and do everything I was supposed to.

We went into class and sweat a lot for an hour.

On my way out of the studio we spoke again briefly. She said something that’s stuck with me. “Hey,” she stopped me. “Just think about this: you’re probably doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Where you are now is where you’re supposed to be.” She went on to describe how we often miss out on what are doing in the present because we’re overly concerned with what we aren’t doing. We busy ourselves with planning how to achieve in the future and lose out on what we’re achieving right now. (I introduce fleetingly here the entirely related, yet distinct, topic of being present and leave it intentionally just as quickly. There’s so much more to be said, but I digress. For exploration another day!)

In business and in life goal setting can be crucial to success, and using past experiences to drive us forward is an essential learning practice. However, all of this means nothing without also taking time to appreciate and accept where we are. Why count on 2014 to be awesome if we’re spending what’s left of 2013 thinking about it?

So as this year draws to a close and we’re encouraged right and left to resolve for the year ahead, I hope we all share in the benefit of the idea — at least for a minute or two — that we are exactly where we’re supposed to be.

I’m talking to you, hungry entrepreneurs, and you, type-As. We may have plans to take over the world and we may or may not have achieved last year’s resolutions. But I’d bet that wherever you, your work and your life are as we walk into 2014 is exactly the right place.

Perhaps a launch date was pushed back six months. Maybe a seemingly great deal fell through the cracks. Maybe you read fifty books or maybe you read one. Whatever happened, I’d contend that it’s exactly what was supposed to happen and you’ve done precisely what you’re supposed to do. Whatever decisions you’ve made — objectively right or wrong — are the right ones for you. Every experience is a learning one and is part of your personal path.

So humor me and share in my newfound mindset, or at least just consider it. If you choose to make resolutions for the new year, choose as part of this process to stop and appreciate that you’re doing precisely what you’re meant to be doing. Or, as I have, ditch the resolutions and smile about being exactly where you are.

These ideas are meant to benefit those of us who can be detrimentally hard on ourselves. I imagine that a good portion of Medium’s readership falls into this category. There are (obviously) things people do that should never be done. No matter what, though, there is room for everyone to sit with what’s done and appreciate that it’s part of your journey.

Joanna CohenComment