So it’s the first day of the new year and this resolution business is already making me cranky. Well, it’s not the actual act of making a ‘resolution’ that I don’t like. I totally get why the first of the year makes people want to get started on so many new things. It’s kind of the closest thing to a clean slate we really ever get, right? So why not take advantage of it? I am an encourager of setting goals at the new year and all year. Keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.
The problem, though, is that January One brings out the novice. Just like I stay in on New Year’s Eve because I don’t want to share the road with all the novice partiers out there, who only drank a little champagne but then get behind the wheel, I should stay off of Facebook on New Year’s Day because of all of the bad resolutions that I bump into. I am a goal setter all the time, not just when the clock strikes 12, so I’ve had a lot of experience in this arena. I’m good at setting goals and I’m kind of good at sticking with them. Do more cardio? That was my resolution in 2009, and a year later not only was I still doing more cardio, I was on my way to becoming an instructor. I have resolved to floss. To take more care with my appearance. This year? I resolve to send birthday cards to my immediate family and to do it on time. I’m buying stamps tomorrow and I might even go ahead and buy birthday cards too. Set myself up for success.
Goals are good when they are specific. When you know what you want to achieve and you have a clear path for getting there. But today I’m tooling around Facebook and see ridiculous stuff like “live every day like it’s my last.” WTF? I mean, I love the notion of a goal like “make sure the last thing I always say to my child is ‘I love you’” because I would never want my last words to a loved one to be “you drive me batshit crazy.” But live each day like it is my last? What does that even mean?
I saw a lot of “be a better person” kind of stuff too. Now, you may be asking yourself what kind of a person picks on a person who just wants to be a better person, and I’m with you on that. I don’t want to criticize someone who wants to be a force of good in the world. My problem isn’t with the desire to be better, my problem is with the lack of specificity on the HOW. HOW do you want to be a better person? Most of us want to do just that. But being so vague will just leave you lost in the sauce. What are you going to do? Are you going to go back and fix something you broke? Right a previous wrong? Say you’re sorry to someone you screwed over? Or are you going to be a better person by starting to tithe? Volunteer? Or are you going to be a better person by always taking the furthest parking spot from the door so you leave a closer one for someone who may need more? By always paying for coffee of the person in line behind you at Starbucks?
The possibilities are endless really. But if somebody isn’t writing down the specifics - I want to be a better person this year by always letting someone with only one or two items cut in front of me at the grocery store – then chances are they haven’t really given much thought to the how. And so how will they measure their progress?
That’s kind of the problem with resolutions. They are for the novice goal setter, who really has no choice but to forget about them in a month or two because they didn’t really set themselves up for success. These lofty, fluffy, Brand! New! Me! resolutions give the whole process a bad name. It’s a time waster. I’m more of the put up or shut up school of thought than the “lets find more ways for me to justify being who I am without really having to work to change a thing” camp. You know?
It’s top of mind for me right now, being a person of my word. I took a big knife to the back recently and it’s made me much more aware of how my own actions affect others. Even if it’s just standing up in front of a group of students at trio and saying “I’m going to lose 10 pounds with you all this month” (which I kind of did. EEk) I want to make sure they all know they can trust me. That I’m not just saying that so they’ll buy another membership. That when I say we’re in this together, I really mean it.
So, for me, resolutions at this or any other time of year have to ring true, so while some folks are making a brand! new! them! this year (I mean, REALLY? You’re resolving to make a brand new YOU?) I’m going to stick with the me I’ve got and go with these:
1. Send birthday cards (and send them on time) to my immediate family and best friend this year.
2. Work with a dog trainer to help my puppies have better manners. Blue was obviously mistreated before he came to us and he needs to be better socialized.
3. Make sure “I love you” is the last thing I say every time I say goodbye to a loved one. Every. Time.
Happy New Year! (I love you!)
(See? See how I did that?)