Some who know me will know I make lists. To-do lists, grocery lists, menus, shopping lists, schedules, packing lists, goals, plans, wish lists, dreams, and so on, and so on. Most are hand-written for no other reason than I like to hand-write. I decide I have a need for a new list of some kind almost every day. And when one list becomes cluttered with crossings out and additions made with different-coloured pens, I copy the outstanding items onto a fresh list. Yes, I am all kinds of crazy, but it works for me.
Where I falter is in committing to and following through with my lists. Papers and notebooks are misplaced, sticky notes disappear, and even electronic lists are forgotten soon after they are created. Most importantly, the lists are mine and mine alone so, if I fall off the wagon, no one else notices and points it out.
“Wow, that’s super, Grace, I’m just dying to know – *stifles yawn* – why are you telling us all this?”
Excellent question! My point is – I suck at New Year’s resolutions. But I want to suck at them less this year. Maybe even stick to a few.
So here’s the plan: I’m going to post my list of New Year’s resolutions here, for the whole world to see (“the whole world”, in this instance, is the half dozen or so people who read past the second paragraph dedicated to “lists”). I’m going to put them here, with varying amounts of detail, and then, each month I’m going to pick a few to follow up on in my Family Update post. I’ll highlight a couple successes (“Yo, I’ve totes been flossing twice daily, like a boss“), and point out a few that I’ve been slacking on (“Raspberry-filled doughnuts count as fruit, right?”).
Yes, this project is entirely selfish and quite possibly of no interest to anyone other than me. But maybe, just maybe, these reminders throughout the year will mean I stick to a few on the list beyond the middle of January. And maybe, just maybe, seeing my updates will bring to mind your own resolutions from months past that you had forgotten but want to pick up again.
Before we get to my list, here are a few tips for making yours:
- Don’t think of “resolutions” as things you finish, but as (ideally) permanent changes you make for permanent improvement. So, as a (fake) example, I wouldn’t say, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds”, because once that is achieved, or “finished”, the motivation to keep up the work that led to that achievement diminishes. So, instead, in this (again, totally fake) example, I would say, “I will stop buying fast food for lunch more than once per week.”
- Wherever possible, try to be specific. “I will exercise more often,” or “I will eat healthier” are ineffective, in my opinion, because the scales are shifting. “More often” is subjective and easily dismissed, whereas “three days per week” is objective and measurable. That said, I have put in a few things that cannot be directly measured but are just things I think we should all always be trying to do better and more often.
- Make resolutions that feel like they are realistic and in your control. For example, I have not resolved to stop chewing my nails, because I’ve been trying and failing to do that for decades. Instead, I’ve resolved to paint my nails once per week, because that is something within my control to do that naturally results in less nail biting because: (1) it’s pretty, and (2) it tastes lousy.
One last thing – I’ve decided my “new year” doesn’t start until Tuesday, January 5th because that’s when I go back to work. Until then – Bring on the chocolate!
Onto the list! Here are my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions:
#1: I will spend at minimum of 1 hour on workdays and 3 hours on non-workdays doing schoolwork. Exceptions will be made for nights when we have plans outside of the house, company coming over, or I have a migraine.
#2: I will choose kindness more often. Good things happen when people are kinder to each other. I want to contribute to more of those good things.
#3: I will create and follow a weekly meal plan. Experience has taught me that when I make a plan, grocery shop, and prep meals on the weekend, we eat extremely well for the next week. When I miss the weekend window, however, we spend the entire week scavenging the pantry and eating out too much. Thank goodness I’m in the habit of freezing food for Thea so that she usually still gets decent meals on those “off” weeks. I want to recommit myself to pursuing more of those “good” weeks. The Week in a Day cookbook that Luke gave me for Christmas should help with this resolution. 🙂
#4: I will practice more patience at home. I’m not a naturally patient person. I’m just not. With Thea becoming a full-blown toddler, she’s already working to perfect her tantrum technique. Logically, I know she is just too small to handle all her big emotions and is expressing herself in the only way that she knows. All the same, when it starts, I quickly feel myself getting frustrated and annoyed. I don’t yell or snap at her, but I’d like to get my eye-rolls and deep-sighs under control before she’s old enough to notice them.
#5: I will paint my nails at least once per week. As described above, this is my way of reducing (eliminating?) nail biting.
#6: I will write at least two blog posts per month. This includes the monthly Family Update post. I reserve the right to be as many as five days late with that post and still have it count. Sometimes the last day of the month isn’t convenient, and I don’t like to write the post any earlier than that, so I need wiggle room.
#7: I will keep fresh fruits and vegetables on-hand at all times (especially at work) and drastically reduce my sweets intake. I have a huge sweet tooth. I also have a family history of diabetes. I will stop buying a doughnut with my lunch, and limit my trips to the pantry hunting for chocolate to once per evening.
#8: I will do one thing per month to pamper myself. Maybe something big like finally using the spa gift certificate that Luke gave me for my birthday in 2014, or maybe something as small as taking a bubble bath. That’s the kind of stuff I love, but just don’t make the time to do for myself.
#9: I will limit “time wasting” on my phone to 15 minutes in the morning and one hour in the evening. Yes, that sounds absurdly prescriptive, but it is just too easy for me to play games on my phone when I could/should be playing games with Thea, or wasting an entire evening flipping through Facebook.
#10: I will go to bed by 10 PM every night and I will read before going to sleep every other night. Enforcing a bedtime on myself is essential to the rest of these resolutions for two reasons: (1) I always feel better and am more productive when I get up early and have extra time to get myself ready and plan my day before Thea wakes up, and (2) I don’t function well on too little sleep. When I’ve stayed up too late, I always manage well enough during the next day, but once Thea has gone to bed, I crash and end up vegging on the couch all evening. Lame. As for the book thing, I love reading, and don’t make enough time for it.
Those will be my 10 resolutions for 2016, plus one bonus one for Luke and I to do together:
#11: We will work on one home improvement project per week. There are always things we want to do, we’d like to actually do more of them this year. Set up our basement once the renos wrap up in a few weeks? Plant a garden this summer? The sky is the limit!
I like to think of myself as an optimistic realist. Of course I know I won’t achieve everything I’ve listed in this post, but maybe I will take big steps towards some, and inches towards others. Some progress is better than no progress, right?
Wish me luck, and Happy New Year to you all!