The statistics kings, or as I refer to them- “they”, say that we break 65% of new year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are designed to be broken, which is why I did not make any. I can experience failure any time I want, sometimes several times within a day, so I’ll be damned if I am going to court it. I was not always this way. I spent much of my 20’s and all of my 30’s on one self-help road or another striving to be better. Better than what? Better than me. It took me 43 years to accept my successes, my mistakes, and the whole package that makes up who I am, taking into account how much I have learned and grown. With my thirst for learning and new experiences why would I not continue to grow ? I now revel in some of my imperfections, such as a raunchy sense of humor and blunt honesty. The world does not have a surplus of those two attributes, so I feel I add something worthwhile to the mix, just as you and your imperfections do.
Year-long promises that usually involve abstaining from a desire/addiction or performing acts that we think are good for us but do not really want to do are set-ups for failure. One slip and I get to feel like I broke a promise to myself. No thank you. I prefer denying myself unhealthy habits and working toward my dreams in bite-sized increments so I can savor each daily, weekly, or even hourly victory. I was the kid that easily made a candy bar last all day because it made for a better day. I am not going to wait all year to pat myself on the back for going to the gym 3 times this week. I see the calorie counter on the treadmill and I earned a candy bar or even a dish of ice cream. This strategy makes it much more likely that I will return to the gym next week. If I bury myself in a novel in front of the fireplace instead of going to the gym, I do not let myself off the hook for the rest of the year because I failed. My discipline frequently lags, but not living up to a goal breeds vigilance the next day.
Another reason resolutions fail is because willpower cannot fix every problem. Trying harder often equates to increasing frustration as I try to fix things out of my control or slap a band-aid on a problem that needs a tourniquet. If I concentrate on the short-term goals on the branches of my big dream tree, I can appreciate how all things work together. If I go to the gym I have more energy and sleep better, improving my cognition so that I work smarter. Also, my jiggly parts are more perky, gaining me extra spousal squeezes and increased confidence, which ultimately leads to a better love life. When I eat greens and lean protein I feel lighter and not a bit guilty when I indulge my love of chocolate. I proved this to myself once again over the holidays because there weren’t any Christmas salads, but there were plenty of desserts. When I write daily I am a happier person (so my husband says), which makes me more successful in my relationships. When I read literature, non-fiction, or contemporary fiction, it makes me a better writer. When I perform detailed research on career options I often discover aspects I was previously oblivious to and it motivates me to spend more time writing and constructing a virtual assistant business. If I volunteer to work with disabled veterans, I feel better about not contributing to my community with a paying job and exposure to veteran perspectives and characters enhance my writing. If I meditate and journal today the unemployment blues abate somewhat, which makes it easier for me to take action rather than spending the day on the couch unshowered thinking of how unfair this situation is while the TV drones in the background. It all works together. I am not the only one thinking this way, as evidenced by an app at iTunes called Resolutions 2012 which deconstructs resolutions into bite-sized, realistic goals that encourage a person to think about what it will take to meet a wide-sweeping resolution like losing 20 pounds or quitting smoking. I think the best resolution all of us can strive for is doing something nice for someone else every day. If that took off I would not need to challenge myself with meditation as often, but wishing for something hardly ever makes it so.
The American lives even more for his goals, for the future, than the European. Life for him is always becoming, never being.