Happy New Year, everyone. Have you made any resolutions?
I tend to root myself in traditions, which I find stabilizing in the general maelstrom that is my overbusy life. Not all traditions, mind you, and not even all the ones I grew up with. Just the meaningful or interesting ones. Among my New Year’s traditions, along with black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day (which, sadly, my husband and children have so far refused to eat even when I make them with ham) and drinking a toast at midnight, is setting for myself some resolutions.
Sometimes these are successful. I remember one year, before we had children, before we owned our own home, even before I was teaching full-time, when my husband and I decided we watched too much television didn’t indulge enough our passion for reading and so would stop sitting in front of the idiot box, spending our unoccupied evening hours with books instead.
That was one of the best Januarys ever.
We managed it for a full month and really enjoyed it. But we sort of missed our favorite television shows. (This was back in the day when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and the incredibly offensive Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? and MTV’s The Real World were the only “reality” shows on the air, and back before we owned a house that offered us opportunities for improvement and upkeep and so home improvement shows on HGTV were fun to watch.) So on January 31st, we decided that we’d had a good time reading and would allow television back into our lives more sparingly without letting go of reading every night. We learned how to enjoy the proverbial best of both worlds, and our lives were better as a result. I count that as a successful resolution.
I have made other resolutions over the years that did not turn out so well. I remember the time in college when I decided I wasn’t going to shop anymore.
That lasted almost a week. I tried giving it up for Lent that spring, too, which turned out slightly better.
There was that other time when I resolved I would stop procrastinating. I ended up having to give that one up for Lent, too. Didn’t work out either time.
I could go on, but somehow spending the first day of the new year recounting past failures seems counterproductive.
So in thinking about this year’s resolutions, I determined that — as in any good problem-solving strategy — I should look at the root of the problem to find a way out of it. And if the purpose of making resolutions is to improve the quality of my life — and honestly, isn’t that the idea, really? — then I should figure out what about my life needs improving.
I know, I know: Elementary, my dear Watson. Sometimes I come to these epiphanies slowly. Bear with me.
There are things in my life — and most of us can say this — which drive me a little nuts on a daily basis. And I would love it if I could eliminate those things, or at least ameliorate them, so that they didn’t bother me so much. (And maybe not letting myself get so worked up over them would help, too, although I admit I’ve tried that before with little success. I just ended up feeling like a slacker who had given up on her standards. Not really the direction I was looking for. There has to be a compromise in there somewhere.)
So here we go, New Year. Today, January 1st, is the day I identify the things that stress me out unnecessarily and figure out daily ways to make those things better. This is a resolution to enjoy my whole life more, every single day.
It’s a noble goal. Wish me luck.