January 2015: Resolving to Give Up New Year’s Resolutions

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This year I’ve resolved to give up New Year’s Resolutions. This is in spite of the fact that I’m very excited about 2015 and I do have goals. I have big goals, and small ones, but I’m not doing what I always do.

For the last few years, right about the time a New Year is going to be rung in, I normally sit down, and assess, and then create a big, giant list of what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. I’m going to keep the review part (I think periodic reviews are downright necessary in your life, and more often than once a year) but I’m no longer making a massive list of things I want to do.

Let me explain.

I started thinking about this at the beginning of 2014, when I asked my brother if he made any New Year’s resolutions. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Nope. I try to create good, daily habits instead and focus on those.” I thought that was great advice, but made my giant list of New Year’s resolutions anyways.

Fast forward to the end of 2014. I’m reviewing my list of “resolutions” and I noticed how I was feeling. Instead of feeling awesome about what I did accomplish in the face of some pretty heinous life adversity, I felt like crap that I only checked five of those items off my list. I should have been ecstatic, and celebrating attending Viable Paradise and stretching way beyond my comfort zone to make that happen. I should have been celebrating that I didn’t have cancer. I should have been jumping up and down that I conquered what developed into debilitating anxiety (you should not wake up after four hours of sleep feeling like you’re having a heart attack. Just sayin’.). Instead, I found myself beating myself up over all the things that I didn’t do.

Life handed me so many lemons last year I should have my own lemonade brand and be living it up in Acapulco. There was so much out of my control. Yes, I wanted to pay off the majority of my student loans, but guess what? My car died, and I ended up with the car of my dreams – but also an unplanned for car payment. I couldn’t control the people passing away in my life – but I could control working on myself, which I’m happy to say I did with the help of an excellent psychologist. My own personal PSA: IT’S 2015 PEOPLE. THERE IS NO SHAME IN GETTING HELP FOR YOUR MENTAL STATE. There, I’ve said it. Honestly, I think it takes more strength to get help than to keep trying to do things that don’t work, but I digress.

Instead of continuing to beat myself up, I decided that I wasn’t going to make any New Year’s resolutions. Okay, sure, I resolved to read 50 books on Goodreads this year, but as a reader and a writer, that shouldn’t be too hard. But I made no other resolutions.

Instead, I decided to focus on those daily changes (thanks for the great advice, dooder!) and to focus on extreme self-care. Why extreme self-care? Because for my entire life I have been notorious for pushing my body and mind to breaking points. I just turned 33, and I’m not getting any younger. I gave myself pneumonia at 16, and then in my twenties developed recurring bronchitis. When you’re young (and stupid), you think there will always be a next time, there will always be a second chance.

I don’t think that way anymore. I started focusing on extreme self-care last year, and you know what? I had fewer colds and illnesses. I managed to not get the flu this year, despite being exposed at the office. from multiple sources. I’m taking much better care of my body and mind, and I think it shows. I’m much happier, I’m definitely healthier, and don’t feel like I’m failing at, well, life and everything. Instead of focusing on the year ahead, I’m focusing on what I can do TODAY to get me to where I want to be. Focusing on the now is so much easier than thinking about what I want 12 months from now.

I read a study that said if you want to improve your cognitive ability, the best thing you can do is to exercise. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with my additional motivation, but exercise is now a regular thing for me. And you know what? I do feel better and do feel more mentally clear. Writing every day is pretty amazing, too, and I have enough of a project variety that if I feel stuck on something I can jump to something else.

Do I have long term goals? Absolutely. I’m just focused on what I can do today to get me there, instead of imagining where I am a year from now.

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