Each year, come December 31st, I hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions. The most common ones center on weight loss, getting some aspect of their lives organized, or to find their other half. I’m not saying that these resolutions are bad. I simply question whether these resolutions are really made as a goal they are willing to work toward, or if they are simply made in the hope that, by simply declaring it, it will occur with little effort required on their part.
These resolutions seem to center around what is expected of us, unconsciously or not. The best example for this is probably weight loss, a resolution I hear at least twenty times before everyone clinks glasses and shouts “Happy New Year!” Weight loss is not necessarily a bad resolution to make, especially if you are making said resolution due to health concerns. But most people focus on the goal rather than the process. They note that they want to lose twenty pounds by next year instead of saying that they plan on opting to walk more places rather than drive. They say they want to reduce two sizes in their clothing with no idea of how they will do so. If I heard my friends say they wanted to be more active or eat healthier, I could easily get behind their resolutions and even make suggestions from my own experiences if they appear open to them. But without forethought, without a plan, they aren’t likely to last. And if one gently asks about the same resolution they made last year, you might see a bit of shame in their face. That they failed, but must try, try again.
Frankly, I do not care if my friends are a bit fluffier than they think they should be, if they are disorganized, if they are single, or even in a relationship. I care that my friends are happy. Making resolutions each year and never seeing results is maddening, and we don’t need to create new reasons to feel guilty.
How do we a successfully stick to a resolution over the course of at least a whole year? The most important thing is to not only create a process towards a specific goal, but also to know what to do when the weather is at its worst and all you want is a massive blanket in which to hide under from it all. If you live in western Washington state like most of us here from Podcast Lost in Space do, the tough time is typically the lovely wet, cold, dark month of March.
A few years ago I let one of my best friends in on a dirty little secret of mine about New Year resolutions. I make at least one “selfish” resolution each year. A resolution just for me, to keep me going throughout the year. I’m not picking out resolutions like losing weight or becoming more organized. I’m also not choosing to eat more chocolate or a larger blanket to hide under. Instead I’m picking resolutions that will make me happier over the year, even if they may be a bit frustrating at first as I change my normal habits.
One year I made the resolution to find one evening a week to spend on self-care, because I have the bad habit of taking care of everyone else before myself. That one was difficult, but I managed to do it every week! How? I set specific days in my planner, where I had to find three to four hours per week for myself and stick to it, rather than just assume I would find it somehow, then reason my way out of when it didn’t happen. Another year I made the resolution to cook more of my own food from scratch, because I was letting my stressful schedule limit the time I spent cooking, an activity I enjoy very much. I kept to that plan by actively planning one recipe a week I wanted to make. Making an active effort to also eat only a set number of ready to eat meals, or going out to eat, per week also provided the need as well as the time for cooking at home. It became not only a way to de-stress from long days, but it also became part of my natural schedule.
This year my resolution is to make more plans, specifically for fun, with friends. At the time I’m writing this I still have a couple days to figure out the plan that will support my resolution and make it stronger than a wish. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll hopefully have it nailed down.
This year I offer you a challenge, if you are willing to take it, even if you are reading this after New Year’s Day. Make a resolution, specifically for yourself and for no one else. Figure out something in your life that has been bothering you and make a full resolution with a bit of a plan as to how you will achieve it. Choose how best to make yourself not only better, but happier.