Kick the usual New Year’s resolutions to the curb
It’s that time of year, folks. The calendars take their final bow, we have to start remembering to write “2012” on all our documents, and, oh, all our sins from the past year are washed away and we can begin anew. Wait, no, I’m thinking of a Jewish holiday. Anyways, what many do engage in at the turning of the New Year is creating “resolutions”: goals that they hope to accomplish in the coming year, changes that they hope to effect, to start fresh and anew! But explaining the purpose of and reasons for making resolutions is like explaining why people all over the country watch fireworks on the Fourth of July: it’s become an American institution, an accepted way to mark and ring in a holiday.
USA.gov has listed the top resolutions year after year:
Drink Less Alcohol, Get a Better Education, Get a Better Job, Get Fit, Lose Weight, Manage Debt, Manage Stress, Quit Smoking, Reduce/Reuse/Recycle, Save Money, Take a Trip, Volunteer to Help Others.
While all of these are fantastic goals, my own personal aspirations have fallen into the fourth and fifth category for as long as I can remember.
1995 [age 9]: GET SKINNY!!!!
2001 [age 15]: LOSE WEIGHT LOSE WEIGHT LOSE WEIGHT
2007 [age 21]: Could you please please please just drop a few pounds this year? Just do it. Ok?
This year, 2012 [age 25]: Be the healthiest you can be. And cut it out with the resolutions.
These (along with every other year in between and then some) are ripped from the personal diary of yours truly. Losing weight was the main priority in my life for…well, most of my life. And did I ever lose the weight that I wanted? Rarely. And, if I did, was it ever enough? Never. If I lost 7 pounds, there were always seven more to lose. And so January 1st of the next year would roll around and there I would be, scribbling in my journal the same anthem that had dominated my life for the entire previous year. What a terrible way to start a year – continually berating yourself for the past year(s) and creating a vicious never-ending cycle for yourself for the year(s) to come. And yet many of us continue this, perpetuated by the media, endlessly reminded by those around us.
So, this year (the end of the world?! I hope not, because I still have not fulfilled my life-long goal of becoming a one-hit wonder…ah, more unrealistic dreams) I would like to propose that we reinvent the way we see New Year’s resolutions. A New Year, new resolutions. Instead of setting specific goals that may/may not set us up for failure or success (but who of us can predict the future? Not many, let me tell you. Especially not that $5 Tarot Card Reader down the street from me…but that’s another story) like “LOSE 17 POUNDS” or “MAKE $10,000 EXTRA DOLLARS” (although, if you know a way to accomplish that one, do let me know), let’s make an everyday commitment to health, to increasing our personal welfare, to becoming the best person we individually can be. Right now. Starting today! Now, you may be saying “But if you don’t set specific goals, and you just keeping relying on vague, abstract, intangible ideas, then how will you ever get anything accomplished?” Well, sir/madam, all I’m saying is that if you’re the type of person who gets wrapped up in resolutions that you don’t accomplish and then berate yourself and force yourself to try again the next year only to again not fulfill the goal (OK, in other words, you’re me), then putting daily effort into taking care of yourself and listening to what your mind and body needs instead of setting arbitrary goals starting on an arbitrary date is at least a step in the right direction, if not the path to a new lifestyle.
Alice Paige blogs about “weighty” issues in the media and the weight loss industry . Read more of her work at www.hangryhippo.com