The good thing about 2008 is that it leads to 2009

I mentioned last year at this time (perhaps every year at this time) that I think new year resolutions are silly. Changes don't happen overnight. And the resolutions generally fall into a few categories: weight loss/smoking cessation, family guilt, saving money. I still have yet to talk to someone who actually made good on their resolution of years past. I imaging that the resolution thing was invented because new years is a nonsense holiday. So you have to remember to write a different number on your checks (yeah, checks, remember those?). That deserves a holiday. If you need a reason to cut loose, get all drunky, and kiss someone you had been hoping to kiss all year, then more power to you. I propose that you do that regularly, not just at the turn of the calendar. Anyway, I propose that the resolution is added to the holiday to make it more purposeful, or more interesting, or something. Because drunkiness isn't that much of a novelty.

So I didn't "celebrate" new years. I'm getting over a case of bronchitis. I didn't blog about it over the holiday because it's boring and I felt bad and with the snow and all, I didn't want to sound all whiny. But the point is that even if I had been inclined to live it up on NYE (which I do about every decade or so), it would not have been wise. Plus, I like to be all lucid and sharp for football on the first. Priorities, you know.

Instead of making resolutions for the new year (and let's be clear, I am always working to motivate myself to get to the gym), I would rather look back on what went well in 2008. This past year was a mixed bag, for sure. I did a lot of the "why am I here and what am I doing?" kind of thinking. I needed to. And then I did some "why am I doing that and how can I stop?" thinking. And then some "how could I be doing this better?". And then I bought a lot of books and started meditating (which is totally hard when you have bronchitis). That's my 2008 retrospective. Haha.

So for example, I decided that nobody was going to come to my door unexpectedly, judge the cleanliness of my home and expect to be served beautiful food. I still keep a clean house, but the sense of urgency that has me cleaning house all weekend long is gone. The quest for the appearance of perfection is tiring. Every time I felt like I 'should" do something, I asked myself why (because if you have to tell you that you should, it's probably not something you take joy in). Sometimes it was important (I should replace the garage door), and sometimes not (I should put on makeup before I go to the grocery store).

And that was my big change this year. It doesn't sound big, but it is. I was able to make a lot more time for just taking care of myself and doing relaxing things this year. The goodness that resulted: I went to Australia, I read a number of books this year, I learned how to knit, I added relaxation through meditation (and a little bit of yoga I need to get back to), I spent more time cooking, I improved my relationships with friends, I spent less time gardening (woohoo!) and doing home improvement, and much less time stressing over things I can't control or that aren't important.

I can't pretend that nothing went wrong in 2008, because it certainly had its challenges! My life is not all butterflies and rainbows. I'm trying to shake off my tendency to focus on what is fixable (because that happens to be all the stuff that is wrong) and focus on what is important instead. Yeah, that is a work in progress. 2008 was my transition year to awesomeness.

Anyway, new years resolutions are designed to fix what is wrong. And that feels like a "should" and I am not participating in that business. I'll be winging it in 2009. But I do wish all of you a happy 2009. Even if you are one of "those people" taking up the treadmills at the gym. Because I know I'll get them back in February.

Comments (14)

  1. DanF says:

    "Even if you are one of "those people" taking up the treadmills at the gym. Because I know I’ll get them back in February. "

    So true. So brutal. Happy New Years Heather.

  2. RB says:

    It sounds like you know what’s going on. Keep on keeping on.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    DanF – I don’t know why they do that to themselves. Obviously, they think that something is going to change. I want to hug them and then gently throw them off the treadmills 🙂 Eh, I have so been there before. Just not as a resolution.

    RB – thanks. The world that exists inside my little head is becoming a pretty cool place to hang out these days (as if I had a choice).

  4. Programmerman says:

    I think the new year is just a convenient time to start things. You can make a resolution (or "set a goal") any day, you just can’t easily hide it behind late-night drunkenness the rest of the year.

    I have made one resolution (which I kept), but it was something I needed to do to improve myself, plus it had a reward built into it. Again, though, the new year was just a convenient time to start.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, that makes sense. But I actually think that the exercise/weight loss thing is inconveniently started at the turn of the new year. And I think that people set unrealistic goals for themselves (drastic change in their eating and exercise habits), complicated by the fact that a ton of other people are doing it at the same time (too many people on the treadmills) and they don’t do it the smart way (which would be to make smaller changes to their actual lifestyle).

    The fact that there are a bunch of people starting it on new years and the fact that the gym is back to normal in February tells me that most of these people are doing something wrong. My intention isn’t to criticize these people into feeling bad (I think the whole resolution thing is a set-up for feeling bad). I just think they should go easy on themselves! Small changes, ease into it, and find motivating milestones in your life that actually mean something and not base it on some random calendar event. Anyhoo, that is my opinion. If someone can actually use a NY resolution to get to where they want to be, more power to them. I just think that more often than not, after the resolution wears off, people end up feeling bad about themselves for whatever the original issue was + extra bad for not being able to stick to their plan.

  6. Since everyone seems to start hitting the gym in January, taking up all the equipment, it really does incent failure right off the bat. A friend of mine just started in December when things were really quiet and has really stuck with it. And if memory serves, I think I started my membership many Novembers ago. So, maybe Thanksgiving resolutions would be more effective.

  7. Bad_Brad says:

    I also tend to laugh a bit at those who engage in new year’s resolutions.  To me, it seems like nothing more than proof that the human will is not that strong.  Or maybe we just focus too much on the short-term.  Take getting phyiscally fit, for example.  Getting fit has nothing to do with going to the gym and putzing around on a treadmill a few times.  It has everything to do with deciding in your mind that physical health is going to be a priority, and then acting on that.  It has to be truly internalized.  And then it has to be a long-term thing.  We as Americans are not good at that.  We tend to focus on short-term results, and if we don’t see results in the short-term we tend to give up.

    One thing that’s interesting, if also a bit sad – depression and suicide peak around the third week of January.  Psychologists are not entirely in agreement on exactly why, but they tend to agree on several factors:

    * The exuberance of the Holiday season is gone

    * The bills from the Holiday season are coming due

    * New Year’s resolutions have generally been broken

    * The weather is still lousy (especially in Seattle)

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Randy – good point. I always thought it was good to start something over the hokidays because then if you start to ask yourself if it’s OK to have, say, that second glass of eggnog, you know the answer is "no!". Having said that, I feel super gross for what I ate this weekend. 🙂 My holidays are officially over!

    Bad_Brad, I didn’t know about the suicide spike. I think that those things in combination with some brain chemistry issues can make for a very bad situation. I also think a lot of people are lonely during the holidays. And many people don’t like being taken out of their routine. I’m a big routine fan so I am getting incrememtally happier as the days go by.

  9. RB says:

    Heather, any news or info on the MS layoff rumors?

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m not going to play the speculation game with the rumors. My understanding is really the same as yours: that our hiring plans continue to be under review. Really the same stuff you have heard MS folks say before.

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m  not going to post any more comments on any rumors. This isn’t a rumor blog and when I said I am not going to play the speculation game, I meant personally and on my blog.

  12. Charles Sipe says:

    I think it is good to ask "why am I here and what am I doing?". To paraphrase Steven Covey of the 7 Habits, ‘many people work and work to climb the ladder of success, only to find the ladder is against the wrong wall.’

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hah! Well said!

  14. JT Monaco says:

    Heather,  another solid post. I dislike resolutions as well, but I am working on getting in touch with some people who have slipped through the cracks for 2009.  Happy 2009!

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