What kind of relationship do you have with New Year’s Resolutions? How about with people who make them without fail? Or with those who shun them with utter disdain?
I am rather ambivalent about the whole thing myself. Probably the last time I ever made any true resolutions was back in junior high when my friends Erica, Carrie, and I would studiously sit down and take turns sharing and writing them down (because even back then we knew putting them in print meant the slim chance of accountability). I think they went something like this:
1. I won’t eat any more Twinkies ever.
2. I will do all my homework every night.
3. I will talk to that cute boy in my math class.
4. I will have Erica and Carrie at my house for more sleep-overs.
5. I will grow out my nails.
6. I will pass more notes in class.
7. I will use more bubble letters in above notes.
8. I will record more of my favorite songs off the radio on my blank cassette tapes.
9. I will make more friendship pins (wait, that was elementary, nvm)
10. I will pin ALL of my pants at my ankles, not just my jeans.
(By the way, there always had to be exactly 10, everyone knows that, right?)
I suppose we had some serious resolutions, but I’d bet money that the serious ones were the ones we promptly failed at within a week.
Any issues I have had since then about resolutions reside primarily in this idea that a New Year’s Resolution is an empty one. Or one that makes someone feel totally guilty or like a failure if he’s made one and didn’t fulfill it.
A new year has an inherent idea of freshness to it, so it feels like a natural starting point for changing our lives.
Except… like any goal or desire for change, we have to be ready for it. I mean, I can say I want to lose weight, but if I proceed to eat a large popcorn laden with butter and a mongo Dr. Pepper at the theater, I’m not really that serious about it, am I? (Not that I do this, of course. Nope.)
January 1st, while symbolic of a new beginning doesn’t have to BE the new beginning. The start of a new goal or plan can only begin when you are ready for it. So if it’s 3am on a Wednesday and you’re ready? Then START.
Next, don’t STOP just because of a slip-up. The road to meeting a goal is exactly that – a road. Not an on/off switch. Dieting but you ate that doughnut at 10am? Don’t throw in the towel for the rest of the day, start anew at 10:01 am. Trying to write every day, but you didn’t do it on Tuesday? Don’t give up for the rest of the week. Start again on Wednesday. “Every day” doesn’t mean “only if I start on Monday”.
Honestly, this wasn’t necessarily going to be my primary message when I started writing this post, but what the heck – take what you can from it, disregard the rest. My friend Tory said, “I’m gonna be different and start my new year’s resolutions in February. (because let’s be real, it’s not happening this month)” which exemplifies exactly what I think about resolutions. Don’t make ‘em because you think you’re supposed to. Make ‘em because you want to and wait until you’re ready for change.
This year I actually did make some resolutions for myself. I’m not going to share all 3 of them with you because I can’t imagine you care, but I’ll let you in on one. My friend Steph and I have had occasional conversations about the idea of writing every day. I like it because I just do better if I write daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I didn’t wait to start this on January 1st, though. I started in December. I wasn’t always successful, but there was no way I was just going to say “eh, I’ll just wait until the first of the month and start then.” What I did do in January, though, was convert part of my 5am hour to writing. I try to get in at least 30 minutes, but I figure even if it ends up less, then at least I still started my day right. It grounds me nicely to start with writing – be it my newest manuscript (which is moving along quite nicely, by the way), a blog post, or journaling.
If I have a goal, I do like to put it in print to keep my head in the game for it – and make a plan. When you have a new goal, do you start right away, or do you like having a start date that is more symbolic?
For my accompanying song, I’ve chosen “Dreams” by The Cranberries. Even though it’s more of a love song (sort of), I still like the opening lyrics for trying to accomplish something:
“Oh, my life is changing everyday,
In every possible way.
And oh, my dreams, it’s never quite as it seems,
Never quite as it seems.”
What you’re goals are and how you meet them may not always fit the plan, but to then steal from another song and artist, “I don’t care how you get here [there], just get here [there] when you can.”