A new year has begun. For some, the start of a new year means creating new goals, habits, or resolutions focusing on things like health, love, family, friendship, or finances. I am not one who creates resolutions for the New Year or has specific goals I want accomplished by a certain date or month. I enjoy the start of a new year and focus on the opportunities and possibilities that exist in the next 365 days.
I think about activities I want to try, places I want to visit, changes I want to make, and books I want to read. I commit to trying to implement some of these things into my life, but don’t set a number I need to implement or how and when I will implement them. Any effort to take a step towards implementation becomes a success.
In the past, I would have come up with a specific goal. I would have created a detailed plan of how and by when I needed to accomplish the goal. I would have begun the year doing the things I set off, but slowly life would creep in and stop my progress. I would not do things I said I would. Ultimately, I would not accomplish the goal I set.
I find when I miss a deadline or don’t do what I had set out to do that I criticize myself and judge myself for not accomplishing what I wanted. My inner critic gets stronger as I continue to judge myself and criticize myself for not being smarter, faster, better at managing my time, or being able to do what I asked myself to do. As I continue to be critical of myself, my motivation and inspiration to push forward and keep working toward the goal diminishes and in the end I give up on my goal.
Recently, I realized my cycle of setting specific goals with plans for completing them; missing some steps and accomplishing others; judging and criticizing myself for not doing what I said I would; becoming stuck in my judgments and not doing anything; and then giving up on my goal was not a cycle I wanted to continue. I had difficulty figuring out how to change my approach to setting goals until I stumbled on an article talking about impermanence.
I was not sure exactly what impermanence meant except I gather it had something to do with not being permanent. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary (2017), “Impermanence means the quality or state of being impermanent“ (impermanence) and “Impermanent means not permanent” (impermanent). I decided to take some time learn more about impermanence and how I could start to use the term in my thinking. I started recognizing how I was interpreting moments or making decisions finite.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how things were not the way I wanted them to be ending up sad, frustrated, and let down. By telling myself things were finite, it made it harder for me to accept the present reality. It was harder for me to remember my sadness most likely was not going to last forever or that life is unpredictable and uncontrollable so sometimes plans aren’t going to play out as I wanted.
As I begin to embrace impermanence, I am shifting my outlook on life and how I set goals for myself. I will use impermanence to evaluate situations, decisions, feelings, and thoughts. With impermanence, I will be able to accept reality better, both the painful and the beauty. I will try to be mindful of impermanence when creating my goals. I will try to see if there is a way to incorporate the impermanence of life in my goals. My journey with impermanence will be on going for the rest of my life.
Impermanence. 2017. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impermanence
Impermanent. 2017. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impermanent