(Apologies, there, about the paraphrase…)
It’s that time of year when people are making grand sweeping statements about how THIS IS THE YEAR THAT EVERYTHING CHANGES! They’re going to exercise every day for two hours! They’re going to learn a new hobby they’ve never before made time for! They’re going to eat better and cook more nutritiously in all this free time they suddenly don’t have what with all the travelling to the gym and the guitar lessons and all! This year I’m not going to spit out my drink laughing at anyone when they make the same resolutions I’ve heard them make the last three years running. OH WAS THAT OUT LOUD?
Here’s the thing. I’ve not really ever seen a New Year’s Resolution that actually lived past about February.
I don’t think that waking up on the 1st and deciding to make sweeping changes really and truly works. I think it’ll work for a while, while the excitement and charge is there; but after a few weeks the novelty wears off and you realize that getting up before dawn in heartless February weather to walk three miles really kind of sucks balls compared to getting that extra hour of sleep under that toasty electric blanket.
I think that the best changes are made slowly and over time, incorporating a new thing into your routine as the last thing you started gets to feel more a part of your daily life and schedule. I think that people put too much pressure on themselves to make these sudden and sweeping changes – after all, so many of our friends are doing the same thing right now and we want to fit in, right? Or at least behave competitively (I bet *I* can lose that ten pounds before *she* does and I’ll complain about it less because really I’m a better person!).
I think the best changes, resolutions, are made year (or even life) long. And sometimes we backpedal and sometimes we make great strides.
A few years ago (when I was at the Enginerding Company) we had an at-work Weight Watchers group. We all did really well – I lost almost 45 pounds. Then I had some life changes involving food allergies (in which I could no longer eat many of the things WW calls the healthiest) and work changes (in which yes, I did opt out of that 3-mile walk in order to sleep because I was so GD exhausted all the time). I’ve gained about 30 of those pounds back. But over the same time frame I have made great strides in my resolve to be a kinder person; to be more patient with people whom I initially consider dull or crazy (they often turn out to be sad or lonely). To listen more and talk less (I often hear really great stories about people’s lives). To forgive more and retain grudges less (I am less angry internally). To take better care of my body (by sleeping more and getting chiropractic work and massage). And one day soon I shall work that 3-mile walk back into my daily rather than weekly routine; not as a New Year’s resolution but as a natural addition to a schedule that is opening back up.
So am I making decisions about how I want the next year to go? Well, yes; but I started thinking about where I wanted my arrow of 2011 to fly back when I started stringing my bow in July of last year. I have business goals. I have health goals. I have vacation goals. I have relationship goals. But I work on them year-round (and year after year, if necessary) and evaluate and re-evaluate if necessary.
Besides, I was far too hung over on January 1st to make any sweeping changes – it was hard enough to change into pants and go find my car.