Nudges, Wiggles and Whiteouts: Another Way to Welcome 2022

Happy New Year, right?

If you’re feeling a little flat this calendar rollover, you are not alone. And if your New Year’s resolutions lack the pizazz of prior years, well, you’re also in good company. 

A Whiteout?

Author Anne Lamont is known to passionately rebel against the diet crazes and unrealistic expectations of the new year (About that diet you are about to fail…). However, this December 31 on Facebook she was in a different frame of reference:

This year I have our collective condition on my heart, which is existential exhaustion, disbelief and disorientation. I keep thinking bitterly that I am just *done*, like an overcooked rump roast; just *done.* I have been an excellent sport for nearly two years—think Dinah Shore with dreadlocks. Grace, which always bats last, saw me through pretty much unscathed relative to most people in the world, although a few scathes have come up recently. But the good sportsmanship was based on this all coming to an end at some point, and right now, I’m not convinced that it will. It’s like being in a whiteout, where you can’t easily tell which is up and which is down or sideways.

And her healing remedy to a whiteout?

Remember to remember – all that is spring, life-giving, soul-inspiring, comforting, intimate and sustaining, from the big and beautiful all the way down to your breath.

Begin with Your Finger

Shifting to a recent New Yorker article, This is the Year!, we are offered another angle to achieve our ambitions. 

Start small with your weight-loss goals. Begin with your fingers. The author suggests: The more specific you are about your resolution, the better your chance at sticking with it. Don’t just say, “I want to lose weight.” Say, “When my arm jiggles, I want it to look less like a pelican’s throat-pouch choking down a bass.”

Good one, yes?

The Nudges

Moving from humor to science in another New Yorker article, Why We Make Resolutions (and Why They Fail). Katharine Milkman, a behavioral economist, attended a gathering of social-science researchers convened by Google. She found herself engaged in a discussion about “nudges” and wondered how nudges impacted turning points and the experience of new beginnings.

She and her colleague followed up with a series of studies soon to be published and discovered that fresh starts do push us toward changes in behavior, whether it’s the beginning of the week, month, or year.

But nothing lasts forever so it’s a continual refresh process, with new nudges, whenever and however we choose to recognize them.

While all this makes sense to me — nudges, wiggling weight loss for fingers and remembering to remember in whiteouts — this is not how I typically approach the New Year.  

From Voracious to the Now

I generally dive into New Year\’s intentions with a voracious appetite. I eat my frog first, as Mark Twain famously said. I tackle the hard stuff early. But after two straight years of tackling, I’m aware I can go into autopilot- overdrive and it\’s time for a downshift.

And it soon arrived. The nudge that welcomed my downshift. I received psychologist Susan David\’s weekly e-mail (January 4), 2022 titled The Cure for Distraction. It included this beautiful diagram illustrating how being present, being mindful, is integral to our emotional agility, health, happiness and wellbeing.

Looking at it, I am joyfully reminded that meaningful intentions, goals and resolutions begin from the inside out. Because by being present with ourselves first, we gain access to the rich resources that lead to fulfillment in all other areas of our lives. 

Perhaps you\’ve already embraced this with clarity. However, if you are yearning for greater depth to support the breadth of your goals, here\’s to all the little nudges and being present to your feelings in the here and now. 

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