Tradition has New Year’s Day as the day for new beginnings and all of the possibilities that come with them. Who hasn’t made several New Year’s resolutions at the stroke of midnight, thinking of all the good to be achieved by keeping those resolutions – yet knowing, in your heart of hearts, that it’s only a matter of time until those resolutions are broken, one by one.
Today is New Year’s Eve, and I have been pondering for a few days now just what I will do with this new year that lies in front of me. I’ve thought about resolutions, and rejected the idea of making them. The other day, I suggested in a Facebook post that affirmations are a better idea than resolutions – that we could benefit from considering what was best about us in the year we just lived, and making affirmations that would propel us into the future. I said that resolutions are sure to be broken, but affirmations can grow stronger with time and repetition.
So what should one do? This time is so full of possibilities and potential. Anything might be accomplished, if we can just get the stars properly aligned and do all of the right things. What should one do?
I suggest that the first thing we should do is get the word should out of our everyday vocabularies. If Yoda were here to impart his wisdom, I think he would put should right up there with try. It fits: Imagine Luke saying, as he considers raising the spacecraft from the bog, “All right, I should.” And Yoda responding, ”Do… or do not. There is no should.”
Imagine the power unleashed when there is no should – when we just do.
In that context, the New Year becomes a time to decide and do. Rather than cobbling together lists of resolutions, why not start each day with a simple mantra: “I can do anything I want to do today.” And then do it.
Think how this approach keeps possibility alive. It’s based on today, and only today. There is no resolution to be kept, day after day, with our will to perform balanced precariously on the cusp of failure. There is no should with its inherent certainty of failure. Resolutions carry an expectation of perfection. Once made, they are good only so long as we keep them. Once broken, they are gone. And when we approach our days thinking about what we should do, we doom ourselves to a constant sense of incompletion. No matter what we do accomplish, there is always something more we should do. And ultimately, we are led to a terrible belief that we are always failing.
The idea that I can do anything I want to do today leads to a life built on free choices and decisions. What’s the difference between “I can” and “I should”? Let me illustrate.
I get up in the morning and tell myself in the mirror, “I can do anything I want to do today.”
Myself in the mirror reminds me that I am scheduled to work, and that is pretty much a “gotta,” isn’t it? Should on steroids, right?
I tell myself in the mirror that I most certainly do not have to go to work today. I can choose not to go to work. Of course, making that choice will lead to certain outcomes – but if I choose not to go to work, I am also choosing those outcomes. Choosing to go to work also will have certain outcomes. The key is that I get to choose.
Getting rid of should leads me into a life of freedom. When I can do anything I want to do today, it leads me into a life of choice. I am no longer doomed to the certain failure of an unkept resolution; I am no longer trapped in a world where I am never done with what I should be doing.
Like Yoda: Do… or do not. There is no should. Choose.