New Years Resolutions. Opportunity for Growth or Pointless Exercise in Self-Recrimination?+comment
For some reason, though I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve, I actually really like New Year’s Day. The idea of new beginnings, starting afresh and making changes makes me feel all clean, shiny and optimistic. For about a week. My record for sticking to those well-intentioned changes isn’t so hot. In fact, it is sort of abysmal. At least I’m not alone in this failure – I read somewhere that the average lifespan for a New Year’s resolution is about 14 days.
Though not remotely Catholic, I also like observing Lent… perhaps because I have a better record sticking to my Lent resolutions than I do to my New Year’s resolutions. With Lent there’s a shelf life on how long I have to keep up the changes. That’s the downside to New Years resolutions…. they are supposed to stick for good, not just for 40 days.
So this year, my New Year’s resolution was to pick a New Year’s resolution I could actually stick to for realsies. That pretty much knocked out all my go-to’s; exercising 4 times each week, writing for an hour a day, finishing (ahem, starting) my novel… yeah, the better version of myself would do all of those things. But past broken resolutions have shown that I only have the self-discipline to be the ‘better version’ of myself for about a month (if that). Usually with my New Year’s resolutions, I start with good intentions and end with failure and self-recrimination, making me feel worse about myself, instead of better. So this year I decided that making a small change I’ll actually stick to would be better than a substantial change I won’t.
Figuring out that the ‘small change I’ll actually stick to’ proved to be harder than I anticipated. I don’t want to make it too small as to render it completely pointless. Then again, if I make it too significant, it starts decreasing my odds of success.
Initially, I wanted to do something like ‘not get annoyed at stupid stuff’, but that’s way too nebulous, not to mention impossible. So I decided I needed to make it more concrete. Most Christmases I get a ton of Starbucks gift cards from distant relatives who have no idea what to get me, and I play a little game with myself to see how long I can make it until the cards run dry (usually sometime in mid February). I didn’t get one card this year. Not one! As such, I thought about a resolution of giving myself a coffee budget – no more than $10 a month – but I realized I’d likely forget what I did weeks before and violate the resolution without meaning to.
Most of my resolution failures come from thoughtlessness rather than willful neglect. I just forget. There’s nothing like New Year’s resolutions to throw the disparity between the person I like to think I am vs. the person I actually am into sharp and unflattering relief. I thought perhaps a ‘no more than once a week’ coffee buying resolution would work, but that seemed sort of lame and insignificant. Then I started getting annoyed at myself and realized that perhaps I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions more than the reality of New Year’s resolutions. I considered soliciting opinions from my friends and loved ones on what change(s) they would like me to make, but realized I’d probably hear some stuff I didn’t want to hear and get defensive and huffy which is definitely not the way I want to ring in the New Year. So in the end I just went with the stupid coffee thing, though I can’t say I feel good about it.
Am I the only one who agonizes over this stuff?