Non-resolutions

I was chatting with a friend today on Facebook, and she remarked that she “doesn’t do ‘resolutions’.”

I have to agree: the word ‘resolution’ is, in many ways, like the words ‘diet’ and ‘exercise’ — and often all three are used in the same sentence. The fact is, these words are just words. At their heart, they have arbitrary definitions, or denotations. It’s the connotation of each of these words that bother me, that bother a lot of people.  I often substitute ‘goal,’ ‘eating plan,’ and ‘movement’ to keep myself from dreading them or burdening them with negativity right off the bat.

I can’t help making New Year’s Resolutions anyway — or any kind of resolution.  It’s human nature to want to continue to better ourselves.  But there’s so much anticipation, so much hope and fear and expectation and dread, in just one little statement.  We almost invariably set ourselves up for failure.  Goals have to contain many sub-goals — you have to know what it is you’re ultimately reaching for, but just saying, “I’m going to get in shape in 2010” is not enough.  You have to make a specific plan if it’s what you really want.  You have to define what ‘in shape’ means for you.  You have to objectively assess where you are now: your habits of eating, moving, and resting.  You have to establish small goals to help you stay focused.  And you have to revisit your goals, large and small, constantly tweaking the small to keep yourself on track and to take it at a slow and steady pace so you don’t burn out.  And you may change your mind about what ‘in shape’ is, and what you want to accomplish in a certain span of time.  And that’s okay.  Resolutions and success are defined by the resolution-writer.

I hate defining my New Year’s Resolutions.  I inevitably put too much pressure on myself to create several acceptable goals, expect perfection every day, don’t leave any room for errors– you name a pitfall, I’ve got it.  I don’t remember the last time I actually made a New Year’s Resolution (or more than one) on or before New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  Maybe in second grade?

I expect too much out of myself.  So this year I’m trying something different.  This year, I’m writing down what I want out of myself and out of my life: breaking bad habits, establishing good ones; improving my attitude and my relationships; and all the hobbies I’ve ever taken an interest in.  My goal?  To look over this list frequently and regularly.  Pick something on that list to work on for the day, for the week, whatever.  In the case of my hobbies, I’d like to try to fit in at least one of them every two or three days.  And I want to try to revisit some of my old hobbies.

The whole list is way too extensive (and frankly, parts of it are way too personal) to post here.  But in general, I want to continue trying to be the best mom I can be to my 2-year-old son.  I want to improve communication in all my relationships — my marriage, my family, my friends.  I want to put forth more effort toward my looks on a daily basis (I don’t mean in a vain, narcissistic, or obssessed-with-my-looks kind of way, just making more time for me and bothering to look like I belong in the world and not so much with the sweatshirts and ponytails).

Specifically, I want to brush my teeth twice a day, and floss.  Good dental hygiene, you know.  Something I can do now about my looks when I’m in my 60s.  General quality-of-life kinda thing that I’ll notice in my 80s.  I want to work on picking up after myself in an immediate kind of way — I eat a meal, and right away I rinse the plate off and put it in the dishwasher; I put my son in his pajamas, and right away I put his clothes in the laundry basket.  And I want to get back into my musical hobbies.  I’ve been absent from them for so long, apart from singing in the shower.  I want to tune my guitar and write piano music.  Etc, etc, etc.

And yes, I do want to eat real food rather than junk, drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and … dare I say it? exercise on a regular basis.  I may be in my mid-twenties now, but if I keep eating crap, staying up late, and mostly being a couch potato when I’m not chasing after my son, I’m going to look and feel like I’m in my 50s in the next 5 to 10 years.  And it will be that much harder to change those bad habits into good ones.

Feel free to leave me a comment telling me about your New Years Resolutions/current goals/desired personal improvements/whatever.  Oh, and leave your email address or some way for me to contact you so I can respond to you personally.

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