New Year’s Resolutions…
What is it about our nature that we resolve, at the start of each year, to make a change in our otherwise steadfast behaviors, beliefs, or rituals? Why is that we see this advent of another year as our opportunity to commit anew (or sometimes commit anew again) to alter the course of our lives in ways, big or small, that we have been utterly unable to manage in the years that have since passed? It is as if, with the dawning of a new year, the slate is wiped clean, our passions are reignited, our motivations are reset (and, dare I say, our failures swept away)! We are prepared, with our minds focused and our bodies at the ready, to take control of our destinies, make amends, learn to be patient and kind, save money, work out more, eat less, say no more often, say yes more often, be on time, spend more time with family (or less?), and, of course, lose weight. And whether we are successful or not, we will ratchet it up and do it all over again next year. We are, we humans, either perpetually optimistic, or horribly irrational. Or both.
I do not have a New Year’s resolution. To be clear, it’s not because I have drawn a line in the sand and exclaimed to myself “This is Nonsense!”. Nor is it the result of having no real sense of lacking in certain areas of my life. I could certainly lose a few pounds, save some money, or be more patient and kind (there is ample room for improvement here, just ask any of my friends). Perhaps it is my lack of sense of urgency. Why decide now what area of my life needs improvement? Surely such a delicate decision should be allotted as much time as needed to identify what area would most benefit from such a commitment. But alas, no, that is not the source of my absent resolution either.
Am I not an optimist? I know for certain I am not a pessimist. Nor am I philosophical. And I’m definitely not a realist. Or am I? To set a resolution to which you intend to commit yourself to for an entire year (at least!), I think you have to be an optimist. Or unrealistic. I’m still mulling that one over. In reality, it likely depends on what your resolution is. Surely if your resolution is to stop drinking wine but you have 300 bottles displayed in your 500 square foot apartment and memberships in dozens of wine clubs, you’re delusional, right? If say, however, you wanted to stop eating bacon, you might stand half a chance. Just kidding, that’s totally delusional too. Perchance, then, the struggle is that I cannot identify a non-delusional resolution! Is it that I aim too high and then, with the realization that whatever it is – getting six-pack abs, learning to speak French, sleep with my eyes open at meetings – is unattainable, I simply give up?
Perhaps it is an inability to commit that is the hold up. With so many possibilities, it may just be that none seems worthy enough to bring about a sense of do-or-die. I hope this isn’t the reason. I mean, really. Nothing? World hunger? Microplastics? Endangered sand skink (look it up!)? White lycra leggings? Crocs? There are so, so many things one can and should rise up and commit to fixing as one’s resolution. I refuse to believe that the crux of my issue is a lack of sincere empathy for causes near and far. I care! I really, really care! And yet….(crickets).
It could very well be laziness! Let’s face it, resolutions require effort…at least until March. From studied research (read – personal experience), I know that March is about when the attendance of all those new January gym members declines in dramatic fashion. It’s just so damn much work! What if I want bacon in June? What if it turns out I have zero ability to mimic a French accent? What if it turns out I like crocs?? If I can scarcely pay attention for an hour long meeting (literally even when there’s just two of us in attendance), how on earth am I to stay steadfast to a resolution ALL YEAR? That’s 8,760 hours (do the math)! Even if you assume I am asleep for 8 hours a day (excluding having to get up and pee at least once a night), I’m still awake and upright for 5,840 hours. That, my friends, is a set up for failure.
OH, I know. I’m just so busy. I’m a single mom, for Christ’s sake. Ok, in reality, she’s 18, but still, she lives here and she has a DOG. And I have a job. And housework. And laundry. And other mom stuff. Let’s do that math, shall we? If, as noted above, I am awake 5,840 hours a year and I work, on average, 48 weeks a year, that’s 1,920 hours that I can’t spend contemplating the question of my resolution. Let’s say I spend another, on average 2 hours a day on mom things (730 hours annually) and four weeks on vacation/enjoying holidays (504 hours) and, oh, another 2 hours a day doing mind-numbing social media/CNN/ Fox News (kidding!) activities (another 730 hours!), that leaves me 1,956 hours of contemplation time. Ok, so I’m not that busy.
Maybe I’ve just settled. Settled for who I am and what I am and what my life is. Is that bad? No doubt the answer to that is all in the spin. If, for example, I claim instead to have reached a sense of contentment, a spiritual nirvana of acceptance with the world and my place in it, well, then, yay for me. But if I flip the view and put forth instead that I’ve simply given up on any sort of effort to put right the ship of my life (insert sad emoji face here), well, not so yay for me. Am I content? Emphatically not, or the daily anxiety I feel would not rise out of my chest like a screaming child (or maybe that’s just FOMO?). I yearn to do something else. Something not at all akin to what I spend my days doing now. So no, contentment would not describe my inner sanctuary status, nor would settled apply. Moving on then.
I don’t really know why I don’t have a resolution. At the end of all this self assessment, I just don’t have an answer. How disappointing. But I do so admire those of you that do, delusional or not! I think it represents the optimism of humanity, our inner desire to reach our own potential or to make the world a better place (or rid the world of crocs)!! Whatever it is that you have committed to devote your time and energy to over the course of the 8,760 hours contained in 2019, I commend you. I will cheer you on from the sidelines, hit the like button on all your Facebook update posts, and stand in awe of all that you accomplish. And if, come March, you suddenly go silent in regard to your well intentioned resolutions, I shall withhold the urge to ask “So, how’s that going?”. And if, like me, you don’t have a resolution, don’t despair. Maybe, just maybe, as we ride along, we’ll come up with a resolution for ourselves worth committing to. If so, we can surely post it on Facebook for all the world to see (that is as good as committing, right?). So here’s to 2019 and all the promise it holds. Go forth and conquer. And take solace in the knowledge that no matter how these intervening 8,760 hours go, you get to hit the reset button when that last hour expires and we face a new year once again.