Resolutions I Always Make- and the ways I sabotage them.
- “I will make more time for myself.” There are so many things on my list of chores that must be done that I tend to feel guilty if I purposefully set time aside for “leisure” activities. Of course, I don’t want to do the chores either, so I procrastinate. But I can’t spit in the face of my tower of to-dos by procrastinating with a book! If I try to read a book when I feel I have something “better” to be doing, I can’t concentrate. I feel guilty and end up wasting time on the computer in a self-deprecating spiral of self-worth devaluation.
- “I will lose weight!” Oh, please. Aren’t we all naive for making this a “resolution” as if that will make us any more likely to stick to it? I know now that the resolution isn’t to lose weight, it’s to make solid, positive changes to my routines that will empower me to do what is best, rather than what is easiest or more immediately appealing. I really enjoy going for walks, and enjoyed exercising with my EA Sports Active for the Wii until a crippling ankle sprain benched me in early 2010, but I demotivate myself too easily.
- “I will learn to budget and save money.” Unfortunately, we live without the things we want so often that when I do get money to spend, I tend to let my impulsive nature take over and buy whatever it is that I want. The instant gratification helps me get through living a life that is far from glamorous with at least a little sense that we don’t have it so bad.
- “I will <complete some huge home improvement undertaking.>” This goes back to finances. I can never save enough money to replace my kitchen cabinets, the collapsing porch, or the privacy fence.
- “I will learn how to…” Play guitar, paint with oils, (effectively) use oil pastels, shoot a bow, the list goes on and on. Some of these dreams have been long standing and some have actually cost money (e.g. I actually bought a used guitar.) It could be that I just want to try these things, like that tempting dish on a buffet, but I’m not ready to commit to ordering the meal. In some cases, I tell myself I lack the aptitude instead of accepting that it’s really just the discipline to practice. In others, like guitar, I feel I need someone to teach me or I will never be able to learn.
I’m making UN-resolutions this year. Or not. But I’m at least willing to recognize that the tradition of declaring my intentions to make huge life alterations is a futile endeavor.
A prime example: the dreaded diet. This isn’t a New Year’s resolution. It’s not much of a resolution at all. All year long, I tell myself “I’ll start eating better tomorrow,” or “I don’t have health food in the house, I’ll have to wait until I can get to the store.” You’re only granting yourself permission to procrastinate with this mentality. It’s taken me this long in my life before I realized that a “resolution” is not a wishy-washy daydream of some future perfect life, it is a decision you make in the moment. I don’t choose to lose weight, I choose to have salad instead of “uber-mega-heart-attack nachos” for dinner (and I recognize that if said nachos are on a bed of lettuce, a salad it does not make.) I don’t choose to “exercise more,” I am bored and have nothing pressing to do so I choose to take the dogs for a walk instead of lounging in the recliner playing Rummikub on Facebook. Don’t say, “someday, I want to make a difference in the world.” Say “please” and “thank you,” drop some change in a donation jar, hold a door open for someone, smile at someone that looks upset.
Start now. Make the choice to make the change every day. Don’t make a list of resolutions, make a list of things that are important to you. Put it somewhere and read it every day, and ask yourself what you’ve done to improve the presence of those important things in your life.
When the confetti is swept up in Times Square and the leftovers of a solidly packed crowd one million strong have faded away, it’s not down to empty promises you make to yourself- or yell from a rooftop. Change doesn’t start with a proclamation, change starts with a tiny step followed by a thousand more.
Happy New Year.