by Kerri Lynne Thorp
I love the new year. It's a time of renewal, opportunity, possibility and hope! The new year represents the story of our life yet to be written.
Of course it also can represent failure, disappointment and guilt that we didn't succeed at last year's resolutions.
Every year, we are bombarded with blogs and magazines telling us to make resolutions that focus on what we need to lose or quit, or how we need to improve. Lose weight, stop apologizing, keep a cleaner house, save money, moisturize, hydrate, sleep, work better, work more, work less.
So, what’s wrong with a little self improvement?
Nothing, except the motive.
With all the best intentions, we often make forgettable resolutions that are ill-defined and based on misogynistic ideals of who women are and what we’re supposed to be. Like many aspects of life, self improvement expectations are disproportionately deployed upon women.
Society has a patriarchal understanding of human value. Throughout history women have not just been viewed as property and considered the weaker gender, we are the other gender. Man is the normal and Woman is therefore abnormal. “He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other.” (Beauvoir). This historical social construction creates a system in which women are never good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough because we are the other. According to this norm, we can never be enough because we are the abnormal.
New year’s resolutions exemplify and focus on our perceived weaknesses and faults. We ask ourselves, “what can we lose or work on to be enough?” The answer is nothing, because the system is not designed for our success.
Because the system is designed to exclude us, let’s stop working within it and playing by its rules. Let’s make our own rules. We need to define our goals and make our plans based on our assets, our strengths and potentials. We can use this lens to make asset-based feminist resolutions.
What makes a resolution both asset-based and feminist?
Any resolution that focuses on a person's strengths and potentials while not contributing to the subjugation of women. Pretty simple.
How do we make an asset-based feminist resolution?
1. Recognize your potential.
What are qualities or abilities that you have that can be developed and can lead to future success, skills, or enjoyment?
2. Define a goal based on your potential and interests.
Clearly describe your goal based your potential. For example, "I have always enjoyed writing, and I am good at it. My goal is to write a short story."
3. Name your motive.
Why is this your goal? Is it based on enhancing your strengths and interests, will it improve you self-defined quality of life?
4. Identify a strength you have to help you reach that potential.
How can you strategically set yourself up for success? What strengths do you have that will help you meet your goal?
5. Acknowledge barriers and identify strengths you have to help you work around those barriers.
Barriers are real and can’t be “hoped” away. What barriers exist in your life that may prevent you from reaching your goal? Name them, be honest with yourself so that you can strategically plan to meet your goal in a realistic way that fits your life.
6. Make an achievable plan.
Create action steps, prioritize high impact tasks and be realistic about your capacity.
Above all have a happy new year, do whatever you like. You know yourself best.
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