At one time, I thought that resolutions were required of an adult. As a child, I heard the adults around me speaking of their resolutions every January. They were all going to lose seventy-five pounds in thirty days, quit smoking, and become a millionaire. There surely had to be a few realistic resolutions out there, but I don't remember any of those. I only remember the grand resolutions.
There's probably some obscure psychological reason for that.
I can remember thinking that these resolutions I was hearing about were a bit impossible; I didn't think that my father would EVER quit smoking, for example. Even after my mother quit, and made my father go outside to smoke, he kept puffing away. We were living in Washington D.C., and had just had five feet of snow plopped down on us, and my dad was out there shoveling himself a place to smoke. And then he decided to quit one day, and that was that. He didn't make a resolution to do it; he just did. I never heard him specifically say "I quit" until he asked me to show him how to crochet a granny square.
When I became an official adult, I did the adult thing and made some resolutions. I was going to lose thirty pounds, find a rich husband, and own all the books ever. Or something like that. I think I actually gained thirty pounds that year, and my quest to own all the books was thwarted by authors writing more books. Never mind the rich husband. I was a smart girl, surely I could make my own way in the world.
Year after year, there I was on January 1st, resolving something. And year after year, there I was on January 31st, feeling guilty/angry/depressed. Occasionally, I would attempt to just get right back on that wagon, try to meet that resolution at least one more time. Things never ended well. I gained the weight I'd planned to lose. I became ill and couldn't exercise more, or keep the house clean, or whatever.
I realized that my tendency toward making resolutions had to do with meeting other people's expectations than my own. It was a topic of conversation at work, our resolutions. Weight contests were started; exercise groups were formed. If you didn't keep up, the others looked at you with pity, and who needs that?
So I just stopped. I resolved to not do resolutions. I didn't talk about resolutions. I didn't even mention them. If someone asked me about my resolutions, I would just smile and ask them about theirs. I realized that I didn't need to meet anyone else's expectations, just my own. It was amazing how much weight lifted off my shoulders that year. No guilt or anger or depression. No pressure to do anything...except be. I decided to start eating more fruits and vegetables, and walking more instead of taking the elevator.
And then, one day, I had lost thirty pounds. Without a resolution at all.
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1. Share your 2015 New Year’s Resolution. How did last year’s turn out?