Friday, December 31, 2010

No Resolutions

Happy New Year!
A long time ago, I stopped making new year's resolutions, and I encourage you to do the same.  

They always start out with good intention - we think of all our bad habits, all our flaws, all the things we'd like to change about ourselves.  We pledge that in the new year, we'll be better.  We'll improve our health, our financial situation, our appearance.  We'll be better friends, better parents, better children, better people.  We'll quit smoking, we'll lose weight, we'll save money, and we'll help someone in need.

The problem is that we take these ideas to such an extreme: it's all or nothing.  Somehow in that magical midnight moment, we expect ourselves to completely transform.  We don't want to ease into a lifestyle change; we want to instantaneously transform into a new person.  With that in mind, we've got to make the most of the old person up until that very last second.  We chain smoke every cigarette we can get our hands on.  We eat and drink to excess.  We spend every last dime (and available credit) on whatever it is we don't really need.  And we tell that person in need that we're too busy smoking, eating, drinking, and shopping to be there for her today.
At midnight, the pressure is on!

And then midnight strikes.  Yet we do not go through a magical Cinderella-in-reverse transformation; we are still us.  With the same desires, the same human flaws, the same stresses, and now with that extra excess festering within us.  And without a realistic plan to change our ways.  We still have cigarettes and junk food in the house, and now we're too broke to go shopping for healthy food until the next payday.  We've got so much work that's been building up over the holiday that we don't have time to spend with that friend or family member who needs us.  We meant well, but ... we didn't really think this through.  We didn't really prepare ourselves for this.

We might last a few hours, or even a few days or weeks before we give in, and go for that cigarette, that piece of candy, or those new shoes.  Whatever that bad thing was that we should've given up - we do that.  And then we beat ourselves up for it.  Since we set such an absolute declaration, we didn't allow any room for error.  Any slip - no matter how small - equals failure, and we dub ourselves failures for not being perfect.  So now there's no point in trying anymore: resolution over, back to the old us: old habits, old health problems, and old self esteem (or lack thereof).  Happy eFFing new year.

So I decided to change things up a bit, and I hope you'll join me.  I resolve not to make a resolution.  I will not set myself up for failure.  I do not need to be a completely different person at the stroke of midnight.  

Now, that doesn't mean that I think I'm perfect and don't need to change: quite the contrary, actually.  I do want to be better.  I do want to improve my health, my financial situation, my appearance.  I do want to be a better friend, a better wife, a better daughter, a better person.  I still want to lose weight, save money, and help those in need (I quit smoking years ago, so that one's covered).  But I want to be realistic about it.  I'll continue eating healthy, natural food most of the time, and since I will exercise when I'm able to, I won't beat myself up when I'm not.  I have ideas to improve my financial situation, but I need to think (and act) carefully in order to be successful.  I will continue doing all that I can to be there for my friends and family ... both in person and in blog.  And I won't forget about me: I will take  make time for myself, too.  

These are not new year's resolutions; they're just ways that I always want to improve myself.  I didn't wait until the stroke of midnight to start making these changes in my life, and I won't go back to my old ways just because I'm not always perfect.  I will celebrate the new year, and ring it in kissing the man I love.  But the new me?  She's already a work in progress.

**If you like what you read, tell a friend.  In fact, tell me too - post a comment below!!  If not, well, I'm all for honesty, but please be gentle!