I always say that I don’t do New Year’s resolution and I resist the idea for some very good reasons:
- It seems silly and arbitrary to have a goal simply because we turned a page on the calendar.
- Resolutions are statistically doomed to fail.
- I spent a lot of time thinking I wasn’t good enough and resolutions seem to reinforce that idea.
However, I’ve recently come to realize that I’m drawn to the idea every year, also for some very good reasons.
- Silly, arbitrary dates on the calendar can serve as a good reminder to do something. I don’t need Thanksgiving to spend time with my family or express gratitude but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to have a specific date set aside each year to ensure I do it. And the day that everyone else is doing it, has the day off, etc. seems as good a time as any. The same is true with resolutions and goals. I don’t only do them at the start of the year but all of the messages of everyone else doing it reminds me that there are some things I’d like to accomplish. Furthermore, I’m not waiting for the calendar to change. These goals roughly coincide with the new year but I feel excited and energized now and putting things off until January 1 would be silly.
- I think resolutions fail because they tend to be rigid. That’s why I’m choosing to have goals for the new year instead of resolutions. It may seem like semantics to simply call it something different but for me it’s important. Resolutions tend to be rules you set for yourself that are easily broken and therefore easily abandoned. If you decide that your resolution is to exercise daily what happens when you don’t? For me it becomes easy to just abandon the whole thing because I’ve already “blown it”. However, a goal to incorporate exercise into a regular routine is more manageable. Goals are meant to happen gradually and we know we won’t do it perfectly in the beginning so missing a day isn’t a deal breaker.
- I no longer feel that I’m not good enough just as I am. I am in a place of self acceptance. Goals now aren’t about fixing myself, they are about living a fuller, more abundant life.
You may be wondering (or perhaps not) how this ties in with last week’s post about my Solstice wish. That night I scrambled to think about what I wanted for the upcoming year and, once again, wished for more balance. My goals for the new year are an extension of that wish and the way I’m going to attempt to bring that wish of balance to fruition. So, without further ado, my goals for 2013:
Get my blood sugar back under control
The 30 day carb fast didn’t really work, for a variety of reasons but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a realistic goal. I simply need to be more specific about my needs and realistic in my expectations of myself. I’m going to track my food, medication, blood sugar readings and exercise (all key elements of good glucose levels) as well as make sure I have plenty of good foods to eat that I actually want to eat. I tend to get caught up in what I should be eating instead of what I want to eat when making my grocery list and then end up making unhealthy choices when I get home. I need to keep the fridge and pantry stocked with blood glucose friendly foods that I will actually eat. If all I have are oranges then I will probably eat some of hubby’s M&Ms. Don’t get me wrong, I love oranges. But not as much as I love chocolate.
Live within our budget, happily and with ease
Lately the budget has taken a hit largely because I wasn’t allocating for enough discretionary spending. I was so focused on saving for vacations and other big ticket items that I wasn’t leaving enough wiggle room for things like going to the movies or out to dinner. I’ve worked up what I feel is a more manageable budget for the new year. I still have a reasonably generous vacation budget but have also set aside plenty of money for gifts and miscellaneous family wants/needs, the two things that were usually the cause of our budget woes.
Practice how and when it’s okay for the kids to feel disappointed
Oh, how I struggle with this. It is SO hard for me to allow my kids to be disappointed if there is anything I can do to prevent it. And that is, mostly, a very good thing. In my experience, too many people are dismissive of the feelings of children. As adults we see the big problems that people are facing, we face some of them ourselves, and it becomes easy to dismiss the problems that are seemingly small by comparison. But, to us as individuals, our problems are real and while they may be small compared to the problems of others they can still be large in the scope of how they affect our daily life. When people dismiss our feelings as silly or unworthy of consideration they dismiss US as silly or unworthy of consideration. This is especially true in the parent/child relationship. Children learn their value from their parents. We are the mirror of self-worth that is held up to them. Yes, adults can (sometimes, with a lot of hard work) overcome the lessons learned in childhood but it is my strong belief that it’s better for them to never believe themselves small or unimportant in the first place. This is why I struggle so much with this idea and why I will continue to take their feelings into consideration when making decisions, both large and small. I still don’t want them to be disappointed if I can help it.
However, I also recognize that I have internalized their disappointment and added my own layers of guilt onto them. I’ve always tried to be open in explaining why I say no to certain things but, if I’m being completely honest with myself, it’s largely because I don’t want them to blame me for how they’re feeling. Silly perhaps but we have a lot of mother blaming in our culture. As a result, when the kids are disappointed because I can’t give them something they want, my response has often been to chastise them for not appreciating what I’ve already done for them. You know, something along the lines of, “Quit complaining about X, you already got Y, I never had Y when I was a kid!”
I’m trying to be better about finding the balance between paying attention to their feelings and twisting myself in knots. So, far I’ve discovered that a key component is when giving them what they want in the moment is detrimental to what they, and we as a family, want for the long term. Is buying that coffee, going to that event, etc. going to mean giving up something that we all agree is more important? If so, is it really worth it? Which goal is unrealistic? So far my default answer is usually yes when the kids ask for things but lately it has been, “I’ll think about it,” or “Maybe.” I’m putting more thought into my yeses, which are still frequent and far outweigh the nos. I still don’t say no without a good reason but I’m taking the time to more carefully consider if there is one.
Furthermore, how I respond to those disappointments has to change. Instead of the chastisement I mentioned earlier I want to practice more empathy. Instead of selfishly trying to ensure that they don’t blame me or know that I did everything I could I want them to know that I’m sorry for their disappointment. It’s a shift from, “We can’t afford that, look at all of the other stuff you have!” to “I’m sorry, I know you really want that and are disappointed.” This will still be tempered with gentle reminders of what they have and how they can try to get something for themselves but tone will be important. I will try really hard not be passive aggressive, lay guilt trips or be dismissive of their feelings. I’ll try to focus on the feeling instead of the cause of that feeling and acknowledge it’s merit before trying to help them move on.
Continue with home updates
After more than a decade in this house and nearly two decades of marriage I finally want home to be our focus instead of using every spare cent to travel away from home. This isn’t a new goal, we’ve already been working on it for a few months. In the late summer/early fall R built a pergola on our deck and we purchased some comfy outdoor furniture. Right now we’re in the process of turning our bedroom into a place that is relaxing, romantic and a place to retreat to both together and on our own. Just yesterday we cleaned out our basement storage area before putting away the Christmas decorations. I’m excited and happy about the things we’ve already done and the prospect of doing more. Our goal for the new year is for the kids to have a more defined “hang out” space in the house so we’re planning to use our tax return money to fix up the basement for them and their friends. It will include a new bedroom for Jace as well as some teen friendly living space and some improvements to the very rough, existing bathroom.
There are a few other benefits to this basement remodel as well. It’s going to open up some space upstairs because we’ve never used our dining room as a dining room. It’s always been a playroom or a place to store books and crafts and that stuff is going downstairs so the dining room will be ours. R and I plan to hit flea markets to finally look for a nice table with some character to finally replace the cheap-o we’ve made due with all these years. Flea markets and home repair may not sound like date night to a lot of people but we really enjoy the time together and it is definitely another big bonus of this goal.
That’s it folks, the framework for what will hopefully be a very good year. Bring on 2013!