Here we are at the end of another year! Time to look back and assess both our progress and challenges of the old year as well as gear up for the new year. Time to determine if changes need to be made; top of the list of New Year’s resolutions is usually eat less/exercise more. Next on the list is to spend less/save more. And not far behind is to spend more time with family and friends. If somebody is trying to accomplish all of these things, I guess pretty much their only option would be to hike (not eating, definitely exercising, cost-free and they would have company). But all of this is for naught because, as you well know, these resolutions end up being dropped right around two weeks into the year. My personal theory for why this happens is that these goals are not habits so they just fall by the wayside.
This got me to thinking: what if a person approached change-making in the “The Year of…” fashion? I am talking about those enterprising types who set out to do something every day for one year. (Usually they end up writing a book about it. If they get really lucky, the book turns itself into a movie or a tv show or an endless string of speaking engagements. I digress…)
A quick search online yields and endless supply “The Year of….” Projects. Perhaps the most famous one is Julie and Julia which started out as a blog by Julie Powell who vowed to prepare all 524 recipes in Julia Childs' landmark cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Interestingly, Ms. Powell was using this project as a tool to attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul. Seeking growth via spiritual nourishment, AJ Jacobs sought to follow the Bible literally – up to and including stoning another person – in The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. This project actually spawned new offshoot projects that others took on like “30 days of living like Leviticus” and The Year of Living Like Jesus. And Mr. Jacobs in fact spent a month doing whatever his wife said to make amends for putting her through so much while he lived biblically. Gives you something to think about.
Want an even bigger challenge? Try creating no garbage for one year. To see what you are getting yourself into, check out No Impact Man and the Zero Waste Family. I guess you can “cheat” by burning or composting what you can, but that is only going to get you so far.
Uber-talented television executive producer Shonda Rhymes created her own challenge and wrote about it in Year of Yes How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. Ms. Rhymes was spurred on by a comment from her sister “you never say yes to anything”. So, for an entire year, she said yes to speaking engagements, media appearances, etc. That must’ve been one busy year!
I have been saving my favorite “The Year of…” challenge for last. One blogger, Dave, vowed to read one “The Year of” book a week for a year and blog about them. He has read about people who will abstain from/have sex each day for a year, live like Oprah for a year, disguised herself as a man for a year, behave as a sinner in a religious university, and on and on.
The question becomes: what does a person learn about themselves and the topic during this journey? What challenge s/he picks is very telling to begin with. If s/he sticks with it, also telling. But the revelations at the end are perhaps the most intriguing.
Well, good luck choosing your New Year’s resolutions. And here’s to keeping them!