The Obligatory New Year Post

What kind of relationship do you have with New Year’s Resolutions? How about with people who make them without fail? Or with those who shun them with utter disdain?

I am rather ambivalent about the whole thing myself. Probably the last time I ever made any true resolutions was back in junior high when my friends Erica, Carrie, and I would studiously sit down and take turns sharing and writing them down (because even back then we knew putting them in print meant the slim chance of accountability). I think they went something like this:

1.  I won’t eat any more Twinkies ever.
2.  I will do all my homework every night.
3.  I will talk to that cute boy in my math class.
4.  I will have Erica and Carrie at my house for more sleep-overs.
5.  I will grow out my nails.
6.  I will pass more notes in class.
7.  I will use more bubble letters in above notes.
8.  I will record more of my favorite songs off the radio on my blank cassette tapes.
9.  I will make more friendship pins (wait, that was elementary, nvm)
10. I will pin ALL of my pants at my ankles, not just my jeans.

(By the way, there always had to be exactly 10, everyone knows that, right?)

I suppose we had some serious resolutions, but I’d bet money that the serious ones were the ones we promptly failed at within a week.

Any issues I have had since then about resolutions reside primarily in this idea that a New Year’s Resolution is an empty one. Or one that makes someone feel totally guilty or like a failure if he’s made one and didn’t fulfill it.

A new year has an inherent idea of freshness to it, so it feels like a natural starting point for changing our lives.

Except… like any goal or desire for change, we have to be ready for it. I mean, I can say I want to lose weight, but if I proceed to eat a large popcorn laden with butter and a mongo Dr. Pepper at the theater, I’m not really that serious about it, am I? (Not that I do this, of course. Nope.)

January 1st, while symbolic of a new beginning doesn’t have to BE the new beginning. The start of a new goal or plan can only begin when you are ready for it. So if it’s 3am on a Wednesday and you’re ready? Then START.

Next, don’t STOP just because of a slip-up. The road to meeting a goal is exactly that – a road. Not an on/off switch. Dieting but you ate that doughnut at 10am? Don’t throw in the towel for the rest of the day, start anew at 10:01 am. Trying to write every day, but you didn’t do it on Tuesday? Don’t give up for the rest of the week. Start again on Wednesday. “Every day” doesn’t mean “only if I start on Monday”.

Honestly, this wasn’t necessarily going to be my primary message when I started writing this post, but what the heck – take what you can from it, disregard the rest. My friend Tory said, “I’m gonna be different and start my new year’s resolutions in February. (because let’s be real, it’s not happening this month)” which exemplifies exactly what I think about resolutions. Don’t make ‘em because you think you’re supposed to. Make ‘em because you want to and wait until you’re ready for change.

This year I actually did make some resolutions for myself. I’m not going to share all 3 of them with you because I can’t imagine you care, but I’ll let you in on one. My friend Steph and I have had occasional conversations about the idea of writing every day. I like it because I just do better if I write daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I didn’t wait to start this on January 1st, though. I started in December. I wasn’t always successful, but there was no way I was just going to say “eh, I’ll just wait until the first of the month and start then.” What I did do in January, though, was convert part of my 5am hour to writing. I try to get in at least 30 minutes, but I figure even if it ends up less, then at least I still started my day right. It grounds me nicely to start with writing – be it my newest manuscript (which is moving along quite nicely, by the way), a blog post, or journaling.

If I have a goal, I do like to put it in print to keep my head in the game for it – and make a plan. When you have a new goal, do you start right away, or do you like having a start date that is more symbolic?

For my accompanying song, I’ve chosen “Dreams” by The Cranberries. Even though it’s more of a love song (sort of), I still like the opening lyrics for trying to accomplish something:

“Oh, my life is changing everyday,

In every possible way.

And oh, my dreams, it’s never quite as it seems,

Never quite as it seems.”

What you’re goals are and how you meet them may not always fit the plan, but to then steal from another song and artist, “I don’t care how you get here [there], just get here [there] when you can.”

11 thoughts on “The Obligatory New Year Post

  1. Good post, Janet. Each January, the lanes of my swimming pool are filled with lots of new members who made New Years Resolutions. Experience has shown that most will drop off by February, and the lanes will – thankfully for me – be back to normal. BUT a few will stay on and become regular swimmers. We’re a hopeful bunch, I guess. I think your writing plan is fantastic, however, and I wish you lots of luck with your daily writing plan. Happy 2014!


    1. Ooh, swimming… I wanted to add that in again this winter, but my new work schedule just makes it too hard to fit in. May January pass quickly to return to always having your regular lane back. 🙂


    1. Haha (you do know that there is a “like” button on this, right? :P) BTW – I’ve joined Snap! We can just flash our cards and not go in together, now!


  2. I love New Year’s resolutions. With the rhythm of my life, that time right after Christmas is usually the perfect time for me to think more intentionally about how I’m living. What are my goals? What are the steps I need to reach them? What are habits I want to cultivate or break? I write them down, I re-examine them for practicality, I plan for them, and I set systems to monitor my progress. I also leave room to change or discard them if life takes a turn. This process has become almost sacred to me, and it works for me. You know I’m a planner anyway ;).


    1. Of course YOU love NY Resolutions! Fortunately for you the timing IS right and they mean something to you. The breaking it down into steps is a big deal to me for my goals – it’s what I’ve always worked hardest at when helping my students with goal-setting (besides reminding them of reasonable goals… “I’m going to get STRAIGHT A’s this term”, says student XYZ who consistently earns Ds.).

      BTW – I really like the idea of thinking more intentionally about how you’re living. What a great way to reflect and change.


  3. Great post! Thanks for the link! 🙂 As I noted in my post, I’m not a fan of NY Resolutions and I think you hit the nail on the head as to why. We think we have to be ready for change just because it’s the first of the year. And while I see the allure of the new year, it’s not the only time to start something new. I also like how you noted to not give up just because you miss a day…which is good for me since I did miss a day in my writing every day challenge! But I did write the next day and the next, so I’m happy with that!


    1. Yes, exactly! If we also look at resolutions or goals as to building a new habit – or new way to live (to use a variation of Jen’s words), then we must keep starting anew immediately after “falling down”, otherwise the new habit has no chance to develop.


What do you think? I'd love to discuss!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s