I love to set goals, especially at the beginning of weeks or months or years. I lay out all my promises to myself with innocent glee. For the first few days I’m a maniac working diligently on the list, but quickly I lose focus. A day goes by and then another. The energy wanes. The intentions soon fade, and then I’m back to wondering, “What the hell? Why can’t I concentrate? Damn.” Then I am back to a new week or month or year. The different (or same) list is made. Affirmations are written down with the best of intentions. I tell myself this time I will accomplish my goals. And the cycle repeats itself.
So, why do I continue this behavior? According to vocabulary.com, a resolution is, “a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner.” Making resolutions or goals gives us direction, even if we swerve off course. When I taught high school, I would make daily lists in the morning and cross off as I accomplished each task. They kept me focused, and frankly, if I didn’t write it down I would forget. It is the same with resolutions. When we write them down or make them public, they become real. Psychology Today states the best predictor to success is “self-efficacy - the belief in one’s ability to get the job done.” Set realistic goals, believe in yourself, and then plan out how to accomplish them. Don’t give up after a slip. Just set a new goal and move forward.
Sounds simple? No, in fact, resolutions are damn hard. This is why the majority of them fail in the first few weeks. But why do we keep making them? Human nature, that’s why. We humans are on a constant quest to improve our lives. Very few of us wish for bad health or messy houses or terrible relationships. We desire more, and so we continue New Year’s resolutions year after year.
As I teeter on the cusp of a new year, I ponder how our lives shifted dramatically in the last twelve months. My husband got a new job in a new state. We sold stuff, donated stuff, and moved stuff to our new home. I left old friends in my old town, but am slowly making new ones in my new town. Most of my New Year’s resolutions from last year faltered, sputtered, and tanked, yet I am determined to come up with a fresh list to welcome 2018. What are my chances of actualization? Well, I’ll never know unless I try, so this year I have five “I wills.”
- I will write. My writing suffered with the move. I seemed to have lost something, whether it was inspiration or determination, but I have decided I am lost without it. I am a writer, so I will write. I won’t be afraid to put my words out there, even if they face rejection or are ignored. I’m looking at signing up for writing conferences, writing groups, and even submitting works to online publications. Writing is a vital part of who I am, and I need to nurture it.
- I will eat healthy. I discovered back in November that my bad cholesterol is too high. If ignored, I risk clogged arteries and heart disease. This new year will include healthy choices, including backing off from alcohol, at least for “Sober January.” After that, everything in moderation. More vegetables. Less sugar. More beans and nuts. Less white rice and pasta. More water. Less wine. More fruit. Less crap. More oatmeal. Less carb-filled breakfasts. If I want to run around with the grandchildren, this is how I will eat and live.
- I will step away from my phone more. For a few days each monthI will not check social media or read the news, especially anything to do with that crazy loon “in charge.” I will not drown in all the negativity; instead I will attack my “to be read” list with verve, which includes Tolstoy’s War and Peace, a few new young adult authors and titles, and some nonfiction.
- I will buy less stuff. I do not need more clothes or tchotchkes for the house. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle will help the budget and clear the mind of needless mess.
- I will practice yoga and meditation daily. Both will help with the other goals. Mindfulness creates calm, creativity, and energy from within. It is all about embracing the zen.
The key to success is believing it is possible. Faith. Hope. Vision. Looking to the new year with fresh eyes and an open heart. These are my “I wills.” I acknowledge I will stumble, but with each fall I will learn to accept my faults, my gifts, and my determination to really live this life.
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself. Changing yourself. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. - Neil Gaiman