Blazing through Navy life one duty station at a time.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On resolutions and fresh starts

Do you start each New Year with resolutions?  Do you follow them?  Chart your progress and track your success?  I must admit, I normally don't.  It's not that I dislike the idea of resolutions.  Quite the contrary.  I embrace the idea, and support anyone who chooses to celebrate a new year with new goals.  It's simply that I've never really taken the time.  I'm probably also secretly afraid that I will fall short of my resolutions and end up disappointing myself.  

I've been thinking a lot about resolutions this year.  I've been reading many blog posts about resolutions, and getting different opinions and attitudes about this topic.  It seems like everywhere you turn, someone is resolving to start something, or improve something, or achieve something.  Gyms are full, grocery stores are packed with people resolving to cook more, homes are being cleaned with more frequency.  But how long will it last?  What is it about human nature that so many of us seem doomed to fail at many, if not all, of our resolutions?  In 2007, a British psychologist found, in a survey of 3,000 people, that 88% of all resolutions end in failure.  This Wall Street Journal article from 2009 helps explain the science behind failed resolutions.

Maybe this is why I never make resolutions.  Or maybe I just haven't wanted to do something badly enough that I was willing to put it out there and have tangible proof of my success or failure.  This year I decided to really think about resolutions - generally, and then specifically - about what I wanted to change in my life.  What I have worked out is this: at the heart of it, a resolution is a choice.  A commitment to change a habit pattern.  Somehow, for me, this makes resolutions more palatable.  While I can choose to make a change at any point in the year, the significance of a resolution on the first of the year is not lost on me.  A fresh start for a fresh year. But perhaps the key is to make resolutions that reflect a choice, rather than a goal.  Instead of "I resolve to lose 10 pounds in 2012", why not, "I resolve to live more healthfully and exercise 5 days a week."  While some may say the alternative is less specific, I find it more motivating and more important.  Better yet, a choice to live cleaner in the new year, if done correctly, will undoubtedly result in some amount of weight loss, or at the very least, improved health and physique.  To me, it seems less daunting and more positive and empowering.

So here it is.  In 2012, I resolve to be more mindful - to make better choices for myself and my family.  More specifically, I resolve to live better, by cooking and exercising on a regular basis (at least 4-5 times a week for each).  I resolve to be more positive, to use less negative language, to look for the hidden blessings and on the bright side of things.  I resolve to choose my words more carefully, to teach my child without yelling, to support others with positive language, and to support myself with my better choices.  I feel lighter and refreshed after making these "resolutions', rather than overwhelmed and terrified of failure.  A positive start to a new year, wouldn't you say?