I never have been much for resolutions. At best, they’re excuses for putting off for some number of months things that a person ought to stop doing today; at worst, they’re opportunities for self-loathing and guilt when cast aside.
Instead, I’m a fan of Ongoing Adjustments. These are things that occur to me I should stop, or start doing. Eventually, I get to them. Just thinking about them is sort of a mini-resolution.
Ongoing Adjustments really do work. The key is being mindful of them. (There’s an Ongoing Adjustment right there – be mindful of what you’re doing at all times.) One of my Ongoing Adjustments is to raise my voice less frequently. Walk softly, carry a big stick, etc. I think it was Abraham Lincoln, or maybe Dr. Phil who said, “The problem with yelling is that you have to yell louder and louder, more and more frequently, to get the same result.” I hate raising my voice; it’s unpleasant for everyone, including me. If it’s unpleasant for me, how do the kids feel? Sure, it may shock someone into behaving for a moment, but that’s because it frightens and demeans the person on the receiving end. Ugh.
So, my goal is to stay mindful of the landmines that a busy household can produce, and adjust how I deal with them.
The problem with calling something a “New Year’s Resolution” is that the minute we screw up, we see it as a green light to abandon the project all together. With Ongoing Adjustments, we get a second chance, a third chance, etc. Progress, not perfection.
Mostly, I’m just very careful about making proclamations. Seems like the second I decide to do something, and then say it aloud, I don’t want to do it anymore because I feel like I have to do it, all because I told someone else I would do it. Quickest way to kill the joy is to make something public. The worst transgressors in this department? Celebrities. Perhaps if they kept just a few more things to themselves, they wouldn’t look like the biggest F-ups of all time – because they’re not. They’re no worse than anyone else walking around on two feet – they just have a microphone and cameras (and Twitter and Facebook and publicists) documenting their every move.
I’m also a huge fan of ongoing adjustments by default. These are what I call “back door adjustments.” Here’s how they work: you realize there is something you want to achieve, and you face facts.
Example: I really like getting into my favorite jeans. I also love putting on a bathing suit and going swimming without hating the whole experience. Therefore, I enjoy running and eating healthy most of the time. When I have a choice to make, I think about the feeling of liking what I see in the mirror. I let myself really feel it for a moment. I think about it when I’m heading out to run at 6 a.m. and would rather stay in and snuggle; I think about it when I’m reaching for water instead of a Pepsi. The more I like what I see in the mirror, the more I like brown rice, veggies and running. The decisions and practices become easier and easier.
I like the look on my kids’ faces when I walk over, remove the remote control from their hands, turn off the TV, and leave the room, instead of yelling at them from the other room to stop yelling at each other.
What we’re really talking about here is Reality. If you don’t like the way pizza looks on your butt, stop eating it. If you don’t like the sound of your voice as it hits maximum volume, shut up.
So, if you absolutely insist on making a resolution for 2011, how about this one: Resolve to keep it real. In your relationships, in your closet, in the mirror, wherever it is there might be just a little room for an ongoing adjustment. Don’t forget – you’re human. Most of us mere mortals have ongoing adjustments to make no matter what the calendar says.