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The Perfect New Year’s Resolution

Photo by Andrea D'Aquino
Editor’s Note

I am honored to introduce you to a new member of our TSN team, Cat Li Stevenson.  Cat is an exceptional writer - transparent, authentic, and self-reflective.  This is an extraordinary piece from her as a gift to us for the New Year.  I loved and savored every word.  I hope it will inspire you to reflect and contemplate your truth in welcoming a new marvelous year.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~Lao Tzu

As we bring a close to 2010, I decided to take a new approach to how I’d invite the New Year into my life. In prior years, I would laundry list every over-achieving goal that would bring me closer to the perception of “perfect.” In reflecting on check marks next to certain goals of the past, I honestly cannot attach a purpose behind what that particular accomplishment did to truly serve me. Once I removed the glitz of the curtain—the appearance of the goal—behind it was nothing more than the yearning of fulfillment I had began with.

What I thought I knew was—that with each accomplishment—this would bring me closer to the perfection theme I sought out in my career, physical appearance, friendships, bank account, family, and spirituality. I practiced this redundancy for the past several years without realizing that this “perfect” I pursued was never defined by the reality of my own authenticity.

So, with this knowledge, I decided to take inventory and evaluate all aspects of how my days are spent: the way I wake up; the time I spent commuting; the environment of my workplace; the interactions I have while running errands; the friends I surround myself with; how I expense my mental energy; how I use my heart; and, ultimately, what I was left with at the end of each day…

It was at the arrival of the inventory of my emotions at day’s end where I realized the huge disconnect. After a busy day of tasks, I’d still feel incomplete. Something I deeply value is the zing of inspiration I receive from the creative flow of energy, but realized that because of all these overreaching goals, I was rarely left time for the one thing that truly served me. Instead, my days were often consumed by overcommitted tasks that would leave check marks in a planner filled with to-do’s, and lead me blindly closer to this so-called “perfection”. But, in my reality, they were only distractions to the one purpose I felt a connection to.

2010 vividly showed me that the stumbles of our day, the imperfections—both big and small—are what make each day worth experiencing. It is through imperfections that we experience defining moments, chance encounters, and synchronicity that lead to discovery. Imperfections are the foundation for our unique space to begin growing organically.

With this awareness, it has framed how I will approach and envision my 2011 year. While I’m still in the beginning stages of crafting, so far, this what I’ve come up with: the commitment I will make today is to relinquish an idealistic definition of perfection that has bubbled up empty goals, with only a façade of meaning. I can, then, wholeheartedly make room to embrace true commitments that honestly serve who I am; even in all of its imperfection.

This awareness of releasing the crowdedness of goals, which have unconsciously rolled over from prior years, is my biggest step in laying the groundwork for 2011. I wish each of you an amazing, authentic space to grow in, as you plan for the New Year…

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About the author

Cat is a recent corporate escapee, now practicing as a full-time Zen Student. Her home, for the next year or so, is on various meditation cushions in the world.

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23 thoughts on The Perfect New Year’s Resolution

  1. I best New year inspiration, I have ever seen…… Truly puts in words my own feelings

  2. I can relate to this so much. I always say so many times we make resolutions based on striving to be this image of “perfection” yet most of the time these things are meaningless to us.

    For me I have taken the approach of having a purpose behind the goal. Striving for the experience and satisfaction I get everyday doing something that truly matters to me rather than focusing on the destination or end result.

  3. Sharad Shrivastava

    Just like Gina Marie mentioned in the comments above, I too can relate so many things and instances in my life in this article.
    This may be probably the best conscious thought which will be close anyone and it so meaninglessly seeps into your life.
    like the lines which says ….
    ” “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” is so true.
    Thanks a million for this eye opener

  4. Great! Really ..we don’t need perfection..all we need is fulfillment and meaningfulness!

  5. Cat Li Stevenson

    Shree, GinaMarie, Sharad~ Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It makes me feel very welcome in my new TSN home! I’m so grateful that you can each relate; as it is empowering to know we’re not alone. Wishing each of you a wonderful, authentic New Year :)

  6. Thank you, dear Cat and Tina, for a beautiful post. Its an important reminder, that we are already perfect, in our imperfections. Its really about making peace, with what is, and who we are, and leaving from that place,that core of surrender and grace. And when we do, beautiful things happen. Happy New Year, to everyone at TSN. Good health and happiness always.

  7. Patrick

    Cat: you mentioned 2x the “one”:
    a) “one thing that truly served me.”
    b) “they were only distractions to the one purpose I felt a connection to”

    But, you never clarified what that “one” purpose/thing is. What is it? Will you share with us? I’m just curious!

  8. Cat Li Stevenson

    Uzma~ Beautifully said. Peace and grace seem to be the offspring of finding who you are. Happy New Year filled with health and happiness to you as well!

    Patrick~ Ah, yes…”the one” :) It’s the creativity energy I briefly referenced. What I’ve found to serve me is having the time to discover, absorb, reflect and simply be present in my surroundings. I have a collection of titles and responsibilities (both professionally and as a sister/daughter helping with our family); I found that my collectibles of pursuing financial priorities first had started to disconnect me from who I am.

    My writing, the creativity, the discovery and sharing is my purpose for now. Looking forward to ’11 and how this will evolve :) Thank you for clarifying and wishing you an amazing New Year!

  9. Cat Li Stevenson

    Neha~ “Meaningfulness and purpose”. Both of these words are so much more empowering and beautiful than “perfection.” I’m so glad you feel the same way :)

  10. Xiaobo Shi

    Very nice writing, Cat! i think this is a self-awareness process. Every little thing we do each day builds up a part of a step stone for us to move forward/upward mentally, enriches our skill set, makes us think more subconsciously most the time. Something is important today may become trivial in future. The nature is changing. However, changing is upward. i think there is a common direction human individuals are moving to. That is the psychological freedom where we won’t be bothered too much by the issues around us, and we are so powerful, in theory, and can do anything that we would be interested to do. At this destiny we can enjoy fully the life we were born and given in the nature. The enjoyment includes the sufferings that live brings to us, as part of life.

    i think this final state cannot be reached thru merely ‘thinking’, at least to most people, but by doing a lot of ‘trivial’ things and going thru all those struggles. When have reached that state, we’ll simply enjoy & appreciate whom we have been born to and what we have had all experienced.

    Can’t wait to read more from you!

  11. I really like that you highlight “inviting the New Year in”~ opening oneself to possibility and creativeness is renewal.

    Thank you.

  12. Cat Li Stevenson

    Xiaobo~ I’m still digesting some of your well thought-out words…

    I do agree that this journey we take is largely about self-awareness: learning about ourselves through struggles, surroundings, and other life experiences; growth, compassion, empathy can only surface and sustain from being aware.

    You talk about contentment and how we arrive there–That obtainment is something I believe most of spend each day seeking for; and it reminds me of a quote I saw today while at a coffee shop:

    “Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” ~Buddha.

    We are each so powerful and truly do have the ability to get there by connecting to our heart, our source, and using the two to serve during our precious time here.

    Thank you for the comment and challenging me to think about what you’ve shared :)

  13. Cat Li Stevenson

    Char~ Thank you. I’m glad you can appreciate…Happy New Year to you :)

  14. Cat,
    Thank you for an inspirational post. As we dive deep into our current experiences, we open up a new path to walk lightly on. Whether through a mistake or a conscious step, each movement is an opportunity to learn.

    Thank you for reminding me of my opportunities to learn and grow.
    Namaste, Leigh

  15. Leah

    Awww, Cat married her HS sweetheart too! :) :) 2011 marks 17 years with my own HS sweetheart.

    Loved this post, Cat. Keep up the great work!

  16. Cat Li Stevenson

    Leah~ How awesome you married your HS sweetheart as well! It’s incredible to be able to grow-up with someone that has been able to experience and understand all the growth in your life.

    Congrats to your 17 years! Cheers & Happy, Loving New Year to many more :)

  17. Very interesting take on goals. In 2010 I have figured out how to set goals that truly fit me and were not part of someone else’s vision or socially acceptable thing to do. I build all of my goals based on the vision of lifestyle I truly want to have. I imagined the life I would have if I had no limitations and now work on building this lifestyle.

    I would love to get some input whether you and your readers may think that I’m on to something or just full of it.

    To Your Success in 2011 and beyond!

  18. Hu Rong Mei

    My friend Mohing Su Hu advised me not to make like a language teacher.

    Mei you ren zhi de ni liu lei zhi de rang ni you zhe me zuo di ren bu hui rang ni ku qi

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