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The holiday season is officially over. I know this because I am no longer craving cookies at two o’clock in the afternoon. Habits, even those that are only one month in the making, can be hard to break. So why do we imagine that resolutions are a great way to start the new year? Let’s face it, resolutions are about breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones. It isn’t something you can do just by declaring that you will. Or, at least, it isn’t something I can do so easily. For me, every day requires fresh resolve.
I was having a conversation about this with a friend who is dealing with some longterm health issues. She was frustrated by all the health and happiness wishes, by all the people declaring that 2013 will be the best year ever. She knows it isn’t going to be her best year. No resolution on her part will make it so. For her, 2013 is a year to be endured with as much grace as possible. Sometimes that’s as good as it gets.
I also had a (one-sided) conversation about this with a local newscaster who was going on and on about how nice it is to “hit the reset button” at this time of year. “I have news for you,” I told the television. “There is no reset button. You are still you.” And I am still me, a person who argues with her television while coming down from a mid-day sugar high.
When it comes to resolutions, making small commitments is a better strategy than making big pronouncements. I believe in waking up every morning and resolving to write/eat well/exercise just for that day. I am aware that this mimics the strategy used by addicts in recovery. Hey, if it works for them, then surely it’ll work for me. I’m all for taking the long view when it comes to life assessment and goal setting, but when action is required I like to keep things short and manageable. I tell myself that I only have to write for two hours/run 5 miles/eat my broccoli today. For the record, I like writing and running and broccoli, but for some reason they still require a bit of effort. On the days I fall short, I don’t berate myself or feel terrible. I know that I can make better decisions tomorrow.
So my only resolution this year is to do the best I can every day. I’ll decide what that means on a case-by-case, day-by-day basis. So far it seems to be working. After all, I managed to quash that cookie craving in the first week. This morning, my two-hour writing commitment turned into a four-hour session of inspiration, partly because I resolved that I would not allow myself to stop and read any portion of it with an eye to comparing it to some other, better writer. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t all that difficult either. At least, today it isn’t. Tomorrow? Who knows.