The Anti-Resolution: How to Create Space for Joy
Resolutions are about more than words. Resolutions are commitments that we make to ourselves to do and achieve more. But resolutions aren’t for everyone. In fact, resolutions can leave some people feeling frustrated, drained and even depressed. For those of us who find resolutions stressful, there is another gentler and incredible effective way to achieve goals. I call it the “anti-resolution.”
The fantastic idea for the anti-resolution came from my friend Katherine Collins, founder of Honeybee Capital. At the end of every year, Katherine reflects on the highlights and lowlights of the past year. She goes through her calendar, week-by-week and day-by-day, and revisits her year. What were the magical moments? What was wonderful and incredible? What was impactful? What was special?
She is reminded of and sometimes surprised by the events that brought the greatest joy and fulfillment and resulted in the greatest memories. Sometimes it is work-related or professional, sometimes it is family time or a vacation, and sometimes it is a social engagement. Once Katherine has compiled her memories, she does something amazing—she looks at the calendar ahead and schedules those great events for the coming year! It may sound shocking, but she actually schedules them in (as much as she can). In the process, she creates space for her own joy. Her strategy is simple, smart, and lucky for us, easily replicated.
To create space for joy, look back at your year and ask:
What brought you joy?
What was most memorable?
What had the greatest impact?
What are you most proud of?
What was great?
What do you want to do again?
What did you do during lockdown that you want to keep doing in 2022 and beyond?
Now, starting with the first quarter of the year, think about what you can schedule in. What can you put on the calendar? How can you create a space for joy? Obviously, some of your most joyful moments from 2021 may be time- or context-specific. For example, you may have been elated when you got your first shot of Pfizer, but naturally, you may necessarily want to schedule another shot in 2022 (unless you’re waiting to get a booster)!
Still, there must be at least some things that brought you joy in 2021 that you’re looking forward to repeating. Once you have identified what brings you joy, start scheduling these events, practices, and experiences. While it may be tempting to schedule something everyday and even every minute, remember that moments of pure joy are high points. Like the sun, which is essential, invigorating and addictive, joy is something we experience in moderation. After all, it’s unrealistic to think we can be in a constant state of pure joy.
By making space for more joy and even scheduling it in, however, we can ensure that we will have the space, time, and optimal conditions to find and experience more joy over the coming year. Think about this practice as a small way to give a gift to yourself at the end of a challenging year.