So here we are, four weeks into the new year. I made a slew of resolutions at the beginning of the year. Some were generic, some were super specific. Some were easily attainable, some were highly aspirational. And I have already failed at all of them. Many on January 1st, in fact.
But it’s okay. Because my biggest resolution this year, the bold, underlined resolution that concluded my list, my safety net resolution, was this: Do not give up on your resolutions just because you fail at them.
I decided to approach this year a little bit differently. I decided to cut myself some slack. We all know the resolution routine. You start strong in January, and then by March or April, you’ve decided that maybe those resolutions weren’t so important after all, or life happens and prevents you from doing the thing fully, so you quit altogether.
So in an effort to stymie this repetitive process of failure I find myself in every year, I chose to set my goals differently, and to really give the whole process a makeover.
One thing I’m keeping in mind this year is a quote by Karen Lamb. I’m not one to live by adages and inspirational quotes, but I really like this one. She says,
“A year from now, you may wish you had started today.”
Now this might seem like it doesn’t make sense for someone who is trying to get away from the traditional model of goal-setting in January. It would seem like I’m reinforcing the notion of “the sooner the better” in terms of a start date for change. True, but what I usually find myself doing is failing at a resolution and saying to myself, “oh well, better luck next year,” and then waiting for the next January to start over again. I get in this mindset that January 1st is the only real time to start anew. Which is ridiculous. But I can’t be alone, right?
If anything can remind me how crazy that is, it’s thinking about the implications of following this bizarre logic with a parenting-related resolution. Of those, I have many. Parenting is about finding new resolve everyday even though your resolve was shattered the day before. For instance, one of the resolutions my husband and I set for this year was less screen time for our family. We are totally guilty of relying on the iPad to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting on, oh I don’t know, the weekends, or at night, or sometimes at dinner when we need to discuss something important, or a car ride longer than 30 minutes…I digress. Point is, it’s an issue. And we’re working on it. It’s a daily commitment, and it takes mindfulness and energy. And we don’t just say, “better luck next year” when we fail. No, we say, “let’s do better tomorrow.”
So why do I view other resolutions so unrealistically? I’m basically saying with all other ones, “ooh, I’ve never done this before, I’m gonna start achieving it daily!” That is clearly setting myself up for failure on a grand scale.
So my new plan for this year is to stick to the safety net resolution and treat everyday as though it’s January 1st, full of promise, begging to be tackled. And to know that I might fail, but that I’m giving myself permission to do so and to start again without feeling the usual disappointment in myself and desire to just go back to the status quo.
In the tangible sense, instead of giving myself an entire year to achieve my goals and never waiver from them, I might try to break the year down and attempt to achieve a few on a monthly basis, or maybe even quarterly. Which means I might put some on the back burner until April or even October. Intentionally. So as not to fail at them entirely. I’m certainly not going to try to tackle all of them at once. Most of the goals on my list require groundwork to be laid first. Groundwork that I will be listing out in manageable steps.