Gearing Up for a New Year
On resolutions, and repeating the Same Old Thing every year, and how to get ‘er did this coming decade
In a few days many of us, in the painful haze of post-New Year’s Eve celebrations, will stumble into the office, coffee in hand, and make a list.
Type or write, makes no diff. Except that what you physically write, your body will remember. You may not do it, but you are more likely to remember. That you didn’t do it, as it were.
As a dedicated fitness nut, I witness the Annual Migration of the Newly Committed to my gym. For forty-six years I’ve watched this parade with bemusement. Suddenly the chest press has a line. You can’t find your 15-lb dumbbells. The weight room is so jammed at 5:30 pm you have to show up at 5:30 am. Sigh. Wait til March.
The most popular annual resolutions, for those who write them (which is more common among younger folks who don’t yet have the history of breaking them year after year) are to lose weight, exercise more and make more money. Or words to that effect. Oh, and find love, so that by Valentine’s Day I can quit the gym.
For four decades, mine was to stop my eating disorder. I would toss out hundreds of dollars’ worth of cookies into garbage.
Forty eight hours later I was back out there retrieving my stash. After all, another resolution was to save money. Waste not, want not.
You see where I’m going. We do what we do. Took me a while to find the humor in that. (It’s in there, buried under the rank diapers).
Whatever drives to make sincere promises to ourselves and those who love us (and want us to lose weight) tends to dry up fast come March.
Here are a few reasons why, and perhaps a bit of guidance from someone who has watched sincere folks come and go for almost half a century:
- If the resolution (or goal as it may be)isn’t for you, if it’s to please or satisfy someone else, you will at some deep level resolve not to do it. (I’d love you better if you’d get a boob job, honey)
- If the resolution doesn’t speak to who you are, if it looks like it’s going to be butt-ugly to accomplish, you will at some deep level resolve not to do it (I would love you a lot better if you looked like Olga Sherer). Go eat a donut.
- If the resolution is to please a partner, a family member, or to impress someone else, you will at some deep level resolve not to do it (“Son, I expect you to follow in my steps as a mortician. You will never make a great rock star.” I beg to differ Dad.)
- If the resolution…well, you get the picture.
I spent a lot of years writing resolutions checks I couldn’t cash. Most of the time because I was either far too concerned with what others wanted or expected, or I set goals that were so out of reach I virtually guaranteed failure.
These days, I am a bit more circumspect. To wit:
I made the commitment last year to get ready to sell and move. That was a massive undertaking. It took lots of time, money, effort, and living the entire last year in complete and utter disarray. More than a little stressful, to say the least. But I am perched to take off in just a few months to do just that.
Dude, does that feel fucking righteous.
The house is packed, nearly ready to move into storage. My place is primed for the deep clean. I’ve got agents searching for my next new place all over the Pacific Northwest. This is a gift to myself of enormous proportion.
I am so ready to do this. But what it took was the genuine, heartfelt knowledge that it was right, it was time, and it was not for anyone else. This was for me.
If you have struggled with resolutions and goals, and I have, perhaps it’s time to ask a different set of questions.
Who am I doing this for?
What do I expect to gain from it?
What is my why?
What am I willing to (give up, invest, tolerate, negotiate) in order to reach this goal/resolution?
The rest falls into place if what you commit to is for you and you alone, you are clear on what you can expect to gain and those outcomes are reasonable, and if you genuinely, truly understand your why. It has to be YOUR why.
Years ago, after struggling for decades with almost 100 lbs., I was ready. Not to impress anyone, not for love, not for approval. I was sick of being sick. I engaged on a year-long journey, at the end of which I was close to 90 lbs lighter. That was 32 years ago. Since then I have rarely been ten pounds over. If anything, these days as I creep close to my birthday, those ten pounds are a lot more healthy than jutting hipbones.
But the decision was embedded deeply in my DNA.
Wanting plastic surgery because you believe it’s going to make you lovable, well. Expensive, and I seriously doubt it will deliver.
Working on your body to make you more fit without needing to look like Giselle, that’s reasonable. That’s also a gift rather than a prison sentence. Especially when- because you will- you find something you love to do, like walk or hike or bike, because it gives you joy. Not because you feel that you deserve to suffer because you gained six ounces or sixty pounds. We tend to gravitate towards those things which feed us joy.
Not a bad strategy for setting resolutions that pay off.
Those of us who, over time, have made, met and even at times exceeded not only our resolutions but also our BHAGs (Big Hairy Ass Goals) have learned to set them with humor, permission to fail, fall backwards, falter, flail and end up with a great many funny stories on the way.
That is the element so often missing when we pen our particulars on New Year’s Day.
I want you to get past March at the gym this year. I really do. While I will be in Africa at the time (my first BHAG of 2020, the next selling and moving) I will be sending you good thoughts.
Make it fun. Chances are you’re far more likely to be doing a fist pump come holiday season next year.