Well, listen. I think you’re fine just the way you are.

Sure, you might benefit from a crash course in assertiveness. It might do you some good to cut the sugar, to read the classics, to schedule yourself a detox bath twice a week.

But it might not.

It might just make you feel gloriously defeated when you fall into bed at the end of the night to find Catcher In The Rye gathering dust (again).

It might offer the false assumption that you are what you do, that you’re only as strong as your weakest habit, that you’re incapable of change.

I don’t believe this to be true.

I think there is inherent worth in change, and I think there is inherent worth in the decision not to change.

I think there is a certain beauty in taking stock of yourself, in peering into your own green eyes, in surveying the wrinkles and the grays and your innermost imperfections and saying to you and you alone: You know, NOT BAD.

There are worse things, I’m sure.

And this is why – year after year – I pen my own non-goals. The non-improvements, the non-betterments, the non-upgrades. The habits I want to stay the same because I once fought really hard for them. The ones I won’t allow to fall quietly by the wayside simply because I caught myself reading an article titled 20 Things To Change In 2016.

The ones – dare I say it? – I love about myself.

And so, here they are, in no particular order. A short list of happy things I resolve to appreciate for the year upon us, for the day upon us, for whatever we’re given:

  1. You’re an extremist, a bit. Kind of irrational. Just yesterday, you searched for property in Thailand and nearly gave away your entire house/belongings/shoe rack to jet set for a shack on the Andaman. This is OK. It’s not particularly healthy, but it’s OK, and it’s endearing, and hey, the roads were paved with dreamers. Feel free to channel this. See what happens.
  2. You didn’t put cream, milk or sugar in your coffee once this year. Color me impressed.
  3. You’re learning to write simply for the sake of writing. For the sake of truth-telling, for the sake of learning something incredible about yourself to learn something incredible about others. You wrote a book last year, yes, an entire book, but mostly you sat down and told the truth to the keyboard, and it made you raw then strong, tired then brave. It did not make you new, but it made you see something new, and sometimes these are one and the same.
  4. You are content with what is, mostly. You are passive. You’d rather glide through life than bristle through it, rather roll over on your back for a cat nap than face an angered lion. This does not make you fearful; this makes you quiet. Soft. Meek, perhaps. There is a difference. You walk away from conflict, you take deep breaths, you trust that time will heal and the rising sun will still shine tomorrow, and perhaps even the next. And you are finally seeing the beauty in this. You are finally growing comfortable in these mechanics, finally understanding that passivity is not a personality flaw to be changed, but a personality style to be honed.
  5. Surprise! You’re still sensitive, still a thin skin. You still eat too much cheese. You still forget to exfoliate. You still need an Introvert Time Out at family functions. You still can’t multi-task, you still haven’t mastered a yoga headstand and you still haven’t learned all of the words to We Didn’t Start The Fire. Maybe you weren’t meant to yet. Maybe you weren’t meant to at all. Maybe you were given this precise personality, this precise nose, this precise freckle on your left knee as a vehicle to wander, to watch, to observe something larger than yourself – flawed eyes in a flawed world. Perhaps this isn’t about you, not really. (Perhaps it never was.)

Happy New Year, friends! I’d love to hear your own non goals for your life – feel free to share!

p.s. If you’re curious, here are my non-goal lists from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and beyond.

  • Thank you. I needed this refreshing read. I’m a non-resolution person as well and get exhausted reading all the hoopla at the beginning of each year. Thank you for writing and speaking your truth because it touches me and puts a step in my day. You are my favorite blogger that I stumbled upon last year. I adore your rawness, your soft heart and your honesty. Your words are poetically placed and they resonate deeply. Thank you.

    • oh kimberly, thank you for your kind words!!! so encouraging for me to read. ;) biggest of hugs to you this year!

  • This is so lovely!

    I still sing off-key (and always will).

    I let my husband and my dog distract me from every single one of my goals, day after day, week after week. And I know I’ll look back some day and forget the goals and treasure the memories…

  • perfectly timed as usual:) I agree that we are not what we do. I have been thinking a lot about that lately. Thank you. Thank you!

  • Always love your non-goals…i just put be less sensitive on my list this year. it’s one of those things that is a strength and weakness. it works for me and against me. maybe i’ll trade it from my list to a non-goal. xo. t

  • Your post made me think of this verse “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ( Matthew 11:28-30 Msg) Thank you for reminding me about the unforced rhythms of grace as I enter into 2016 I think in this place I will recover my life! Happy New Year!!

    • Oh Ginny – thank you for that tall glass of encouragement! Sending love, grace and peace to you. :)

  • I haven’t set any non-goals specifically – I choose a word, this year being Move – but I did realize that 2015 saw me grow more comfortable in my own human skin than I ever have been, so I’m keeping that. And enjoying the heck out of skinny jeans. = )

  • I love this. The part about “We Didn’t Start the Fire” made me laugh because I put that on my bucket list in college.

  • Love this, Erin. You’ve inspired me to write my own non-goals. I especially love your number 3 on the list, writing just for the love of writing. I’m trying to get back to that myself in my writing and the other creative areas of my life. It’s easy to turn what you love into a chore and lose the joy in it. Trying to get back to that joy of creating just for the sake of creating.

  • This is actually healing for me to read this.
    I haven’t been reading blogs for a while, and the last days I started to catch up, but al the new years posts made me depressed. 2015 has not been kind to us.
    Normally I’m very optmistic person, but for 2016 I cannot be, yet, and it is hard to realise.
    But a list of non-goals, I am so hoing to try.
    I am also passive, I need to think about this a bit longer, embracing it as a positive thing…

    • Oh sweet Liesbeth – I’m so sorry 2015 was a long and hard road. Sending good vibes for a fresh start soon enough. :)

  • I spent too much time this weekend beating myself up in my mind that I lacked passion, that I couldn’t make anything happen, and so on…through my tainted lense, the life I want(Ed) or admire on Instagram out of my reach. ——I did get on a walk, in the snow, on a trail, with my three boys and baby girl. I felt so happy, I forgot what I wasn’t.
    Your post made me realize that it is time for me to ponder on who I am and let that be my celebration of 2016. I earned my bone on bone knees through tough athletic years, and they have left me with a gift to be more still. My passion, is perhaps passiveness, and I should honor that.
    I’m going to be having some positive self reflection going on.
    Thank you.

    • Bless you, Audrey!!!! I love this: “I felt so happy, I forgot what I wasn’t.”

      Sometimes a good walk on the trail with the ones we love is just what we’ve needed all along, yes?

  • Erin, I love this. Congratulations on your non-goals! I love them.
    I’ve finally come to a point on this journey this year – a point where I’ve stopped wondering “what if it goes wrong?”; a point where I’ve been able to stop caring whether ever darn meal is the best, healthiest one; a point where I’ve been able to enjoy myself a little more, worry about imperfections a little less. How happy it has made me already, in the only ten days we’ve had of this year so far, are the surest sign that you and I are on the right track.
    Love always,

  • Thank you for this this post! It’s so refreshing in a world that says we constantly need to change ourselves. Will definitely be sharing this!

  • Wow, Erin! Fabulous. I wish I could write about myself in this way. Be in tune with myself in the way you write about yourself. Just beautiful and such a different way of looking at goals. I love it!

  • I’m at a loss for my comment because you’ve articulated MY non-goals in 3-5 (minus the book-writing, but also green eyes). My own addition is Being OK with being. Savoring, guilt-free this weird world I’m in, slow and simple and filled with the luxury of time to spend well or not.

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