Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle. ~ Eric Zorn
A little exploring, a dash of relaxing, a touch of indulging and a lot of silly-making with my boys and voila, my two-week vacation is lived fully with not a single regret.
Ostrich farms and California missions, coastal towns, a pair of regal Clydesdale horses and a certain tiny glass-blowing, wine-making town that Rudolf Valentino once visited with a population of 18(!) whose name is synonymous to “accord” — fondly and warmly tucked away in ever-growing memory banks to be retrieved at later dates.
The tunes of Billie Holiday, Prince and Earth Wind & Fire fill the house once again replacing the ringing of jingle bells. The tree and all the decorations are put away and once again, my lived-in living room is recognizable, comfortable and pine scent-less. It’s good to be home.
WHAT’S THE QUESTION?
So here I am, a few days into the new year with lingering feelings about the past year. Uncertain about the future. Yet steeped in certainty that there’s nothing we can do — to hold on to a great year, to delay the devastation that climate change brings, to avoid being another year older — to stop time. The flip side is also true. There is not a whole lot we can do to speed up our civilization’s progress in many areas such as women’s equality, our collective pysche’s maturity, or changing the world for the better.
How do we deal? As big-thinking as many of us are, often the most effective way to deal is on a microcosmic level, by starting with our individual selves. We make resolutions — half-believing they’ll come true; half-knowing that any of them could lose traction for whatever reason at any given time. As optimistic as we allow ourselves to be with the potential improvements within our grasp, we all know that real change takes time.
ARE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS THE ANSWER?
I’m an advocate of all good things that help add meaning to our days and nights. But let’s be honest. We all have enough experience playing the new year’s resolution game. We start out all excited about how we will make over parts of our lives. Committed, focused, determined.
But you see, regardless of how quickly time flies, a year IS a long time. Within a 365 day duration, there are many opportunities to get derailed, sometimes through our own vulnerabilities and other times through no fault of our own.
What happens 2 weeks (a mere 14 days!) into the year if we falter? What happens if a few days into our resolution, we realize our heart’s not in it, it’s not right for us or we don’t see why we once thought it was a good idea? Do we feel bad? Do we feel trapped? Are we flattened? Is our confidence a bit shaken? Do we start over?
- NEW SEASON RESOLUTION The length of 365 days is too long to sustain the excitement of our good intentions, especially if they’re mostly optional. I just can’t see myself integrating strength-training into my regular exercise regimen for the entire year. I’d like to try it but I’m just not sure it’s something I want to commit to. So why not do a new season resolution? Here’s what I’ve planned (so far so good!) for the winter:
- Revel in going with the flow while on vacation or during down time
- Take in the different smells of the season — love the smell of firewood burning and wintry vegetables roasting in the oven; not sure how I feel about the scent of the bitter cold air but at least it’s got me paying attention
- Pull out of circulation any piece of clothing that my son has outgrown and put in storage or pass on to smaller toddlers
- Celebrate Capricorn and Aquarius birthdays
- Track/Submit end-of-year charitable matching gifts — my employer has a generous matching gift policy that I like to take advantage of
Ahh, I feel great knowing I’ve kept up with more than half of the items on this list. I’m so fired up that I can’t wait to start on my spring resolutions.
- NEW MONTH RESOLUTION Even better than a new season resolution is a new month resolution for those who, like me, prefer to sample a buffet of activities than to commit to a prix fixe menu. Here’s what I have in mind for January:
- Stop complaining about the cold (easy, bundle up or turn on the heat)
- Try at least one new machine at the gym
- Re-connect with my productive self (hello, daily chores are productive now that I’m home again, and I’m looking forward to going back to work)
- Embrace uncertainty; it keeps me on my toes and provides opportunities for pleasant surprises
- Pick a host and venue for my son’s birthday party (yes, we get offers each year)
By now I’m feeling like a rock star because I’m on top of most of the things on this list and I still have many days to go before the month is over.
- LOW TO NO COMMITMENT RESOLUTIONS
- Weekly resolutions — It may be tempting to think of resolutions at this level as more of a weekly to-do list. Or we could look at it as bite-size commitments. Try an array of resolutions and see what sticks. The appeal is that you only try something new for 7 days. If at the end of 7 days, you don’t see its value and have no desire to continue, you can drop it guilt-free. How is that not a good thing?
- Daily resolutions — What I love about this is the mindfulness inherent in the concept. Every day, you get to choose what you’d like to do to add value to your day. You could experiment by saying only positive things one day then only doing the things you feel like doing the next day. Could be fun!
- No resolutions — Resolutions hold no appeal to many who prefer to honor their freedom and flexibility. These folks do what they’d like to do when they know they’re ready. Can’t argue with that!
As you can see, resolutions are not designed for self-punishment as I so often thought in my much younger days. They don’t have to be difficult. In fact, most experts advise us to start really, really small. To take on something we know we can do very easily. By doing so, we allow for a high probability for feeling good about who we are, where we are in our journey and how far we’ve come. These are easy ways to boost our happiness, so why not? After all, who says there’s only one right way to make a resolution?
ALL ABOUT YOU
What do you think? Did you make any new year’s resolutions or are you on an alternative path? Do you have any thoughts, plans, wishes, predictions or dreams you’d like to share?
Image by 1.Raymondo