My biggest resolution fail was the year I decided to give up chocolate and had eaten a pain au chocolat by breakfast. It was a sobering experience – no pun intended. But it taught me that setbacks do not have to equal failure. As the saying goes “Nobody can go back and make a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending”.
This coming year I want to adopt this attitude of gentleness. To remember that “happiness is in the doing not in the result”.
What I need to get right, mostly, is “rituals over goals”.
So in thinking about my resolutions for this year, I have been very inspired by two things: Dave Erasmus‘ year of learning to live ON+OFF Grid and the idea of self-care.
These ideas are, I think, interconnected. Time online eats into time offline. Emails, social media, online newspapers, the latest Netflix release all demand our attention. None of these things are bad in themselves. But the way in which we engage in them can be damaging to our wellbeing if we allow them to hijack the time we have for cooking, sleeping, reading, tidying, walking, thinking. We need, as Erasmus suggests, to engage in our online life with a sense of intentionality in order that we do not get caught in a web of distraction. We need to prioritise self-care.
In the film Erasmus produced at the end of his first year of living ON+OFF Grid, he talks about his realisation that there is value in spending time observing the natural way of things and then, rather than fighting against these rhythms, allowing ourselves to go with their flow. Instead of fighting to “change the world”, we need to work with it. As he reflects, the true fight, if there is one, is to stay engaged with this natural flow.
Arguably staying in a sense of flow becomes much more difficult if our senses are confused by the artifice of technology – the white light of our computer screens at night or the low-level hypervigilance that can occur as we stay alert for the incoming beep of phones or inboxes. But the medicine need not taste bitter. This is not self-care with a capital S whereby you must do x and y. This is becoming in tune with the world in an effortless way that allows for care of self and the environment around us.
So, unusually, as someone who is known for setting a resolution for each week of the year and normally thrives on SMART targets, I feel disinclined to take that approach to my resolutions this year. I want to allow for a more organic process. So my only “goal” as such is to create space to become more in tune with the world and myself. I am confident that the rest will follow.
To this end, I have resolved to one drastic thing next year.
I have cancelled my home phone line and internet. This is drastic because my mobile phone offers no route to online life. It is semi-smart but limited in its internet capabilities. This is something of an understatement. It refuses to even show me my emails!
This is, I suppose, my modest equivalent to Erasmus‘ decision to spend a significant amount of his year living in a hut in the woods. Modest because it is certainly a less life-altering commitment but I hope that my more city-based experiment will be no less valuable an experience in ON+OFF Grid living. Perhaps it might feel more within the realms of possibility for others wanting to try this way of life too.
Like Erasmus, I am not resolving never to be online next year. Herein lays the gentleness. But, inevitably, the decision not to have internet at home will restrict my time online. As such, it is likely to become more focussed and intentional. I will have to seek out internet connection. Not difficult, certainly, since I live in a city but not effortless either. I imagine more time in the local library – consciously deciding to connect to online life in order to put up a blog or do some research or reply to my emails. But, of course, as a byproduct of this intentional online life, I will spend more time in offline communities too.
Spending more time in community is one means of self-care and I hope that lots of other self-care byproducts will emerge from my reduced online time. This is how I will measure the success of my ON+OFF Grid living. Will I have more time and headspace to realise the things I aspire to achieve? To engage in creative projects, read more, spend more time cooking and walking. Will I have more time where I can just be?
I guess we’ll find out and I hope to keep you up-to-date with my little experiment in ON+OFF Grid living. If it is something that interests you, you can read the first post in my year offline series already. Otherwise, I’d love to know what you’re planning for your resolutions in 2018. Do let me know below and please be patient if I am unable to reply immediately. I promise I will be in the library sooner or later!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out Erasmus’ film. You can watch a little taster below and I love it! Highly recommend.