My feelings about new year’s resolutions change depending on the year. As a kid, I remember getting so excited about the new year, a fresh start, getting everything organized and ready to go: organizing my stuff, getting new notebooks for school, printing really neatly in them…you get the idea. Then for many years as a young adult, I became an “I don’t make new year’s resolutions” kind of person. And for the past several years, I’ve written out some general goals, set no plan for how to achieve them, and then at the end of the year I’ve looked back and realized I’ve done a half-way decent job with this fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach.
My problem this time of year, as usual, is perfectionism. I get excited about the fresh start. I start thinking about ideas for making positive changes in my life: Exercise more! Declutter! Read a book a week! Eat more healthily! Regular date nights! Play board games with the kids! Pray daily! You get the idea. Then, I try to decide how I will accomplish all of this, considering many of the millions of ideas and approaches that are out there in books, on blogs, in magazines, through apps, talking to friends, watching talk shows. Which way will be the perfect way to do all of these things and therefore guarantee results? And how will I begin implementing all of those changes effective January 1? Okay, January 2 because January 1 is a holiday and who wants to get serious on a holiday? Then I get to January 3 and my closet is still disorganized, I spent an hour on Facebook while the kids watched iCarly instead of all of us playing a game together, and I ate a brownie for breakfast. Quite honestly, it’s completely overwhelming. I didn’t get the year off to a perfect start with a whole new positive, organized, healthy, and spiritually grounded way of life, and I figure I’ve ruined it for the year, so why bother? While I’ve worked on it (extensively), I still haven’t figured out how to stop this ridiculous way of thinking. Why must it always be all or nothing? Perfectly achieve all of my goals or just don’t set any in the first place?
This year, instead of demanding perfection or giving up altogether, I’m going to try my best to take a middle of the road approach. As in, if I only do one thing today to work on one of the things I want to accomplish this year, it will be enough. And I can do more tomorrow, that will also be enough. And if I have a day where I just don’t want to do anything except read a book or catch up on my DVR, that’s okay too (as long as I don’t decide to just keep doing that until 2014 arrives). It is going to be hard, but I’m hoping if I’m a little bit nicer to myself, maybe one of these days I’ll actually believe that everything doesn’t have to be done perfectly for it to “count.”
Here are a few of the things I’d like to accomplish in 2013:
- Run a race longer than a 5k. This was going to be “run another half marathon” but I don’t know if I have the time, or a strong enough right hip, to train. So a 10k or quarter marathon will do. See how easy this middle of the road thing is?
- Spend more time reading than I do on my phone/computer. I waste a lot of time on my iPhone and my computer. It makes me feel bad. It allows me to procrastinate, to put off doing anything productive (because I won’t do it perfectly anyway, right?), then feel worse for wasting so much time. Plus, I really like to read. So I’m going to do something I enjoy instead of doing something that simply allows me to put off what I don’t enjoy. That was an “a-ha moment” right there as I typed that.
- Make a greater effort to teach my kids to be more responsible and self-sufficient. Instead of doing things for them because I like the way I do it better, I’m going to focus more on encouraging them to do things for themselves, and then really work on being okay with how they do it. In the end, more responsible kids, less work for me, and the cycle of perfectionism – broken.
- Just keep moving forward. When something seems overwhelming or impossible, that will be my cue to break it down in to smaller, more manageable steps and do a couple. Doing one or two manageable steps is better than not doing anything. Plus, then I get more checkmarks.
What are your thoughts on new year’s resolutions?
– Beth FS