Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is It Too Late For New Year’s Resolutions? Or Am I Doomed?

 In cleaning out my basement (more about that later) I discovered this clock,
covered in dust, that my mom had lovingly cross-stitched for her sister.
I don't know where I'll hang it, but I'll make time to do that.

It’s not too late to make a New Year’s Resolution is it? Isn’t the statute of limitations the end of January? So quick, before the year gets too far gone let’s talk about what will make this year better. And how can I get it to stick because, let’s be honest, “lose weight” is not exactly original or successful.

I wish I were one of those people who didn’t eat when I’m stressed or unhappy because then I’d be back to my 6th grade weight over all the depression that begins each November when I’m staring down the Mt. Everest of unmet resolutions. Weight, unfinished and unsubmitted manuscripts, a basement that could qualify me for an episode of hoarders, the third copy of that Jane Austin novel dug out of the bookshelf because I never made an inventory of my books.

This year will be different, though. (Cue the Rocky theme music!) Even in mid-life it's good to keep trying.

The problem isn’t which resolutions to make. It’s – ta-dah! are you ready for it? – my mindset on my life. In December I read about defining THEMES for the year, rather than making resolutions. If I said, “Lose Weight” that’s an outcome that I achieve or don’t rather than a way to guide me each day. It’s so much easier to fail. However, if I were thinking in terms of themes I might say “This year I’m going to NOURISH MYSELF.” With that theme, every day you’d make food choices that are healthier. You could also extend the theme to other nourishing directions. How can you nourish your mind? What about taking that beginner’s knitting class or learning French? You could nourish your soul and body at the same time by taking a gentle hatha yoga class each week. The ways to follow this theme are only limited by your imagination. To follow any of these directions would make your year better.

What would be my theme this year? Since the new year was already speeding by and – yikes! – it’s the last week of January, I didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate this to find the perfect one. I went online. No there’s no Wikipedia entry for themes. I did find find a couple of websites that followed this same principle and had some suggestions. But none of them felt right. Time was moving quickly when I remembered that author Gretchen Rubin had divided the chapters of her book Happier At Home into themes for each month. “Pay attention” or “boost energy” were good concepts, but I didn’t see how they would work for me for an entire year.

As this month rushed on I just didn’t even have time to think of that one word that would shape my year. I got sick. Our furnace broke during the week of the national snowpocalypse. My dear, sweet dog Skyler is quickly reaching the end of her days, so I’m running a doggy hospice in my living room. She’s clearly not ready to go, so I have to give time and energy (carrying her up and down stairs) to her care and end up saying “why bother?” about so many other things in my life. And we won’t even talk about that weight thing. Time sucks were taking over my life.

But isn’t that craziness when I need a guiding theme the most in order to get back on track when life throws me off?

And that’s when my theme hit me. TIME. I need to be mindful of my time. While I can’t control my life train jumping off the tracks, I can control how long I let it stay down. I can control how long I sit like a zombie watching “Love It or List It” marathons as a distraction. How long I read home improvement magazines instead of improving my own because I’m too tired today. How long I stay away from the computer because “I don’t have time to write” because life is crazy this week and I can't concentrate.

This year I’m going to be more mindful of how I use my time. To help me in that process I’ve found this great calendar that will give me an incentive. I’ll choose three or four areas where I want to be mindful of time every day. The idea is to fill this calendar solid with checkmarks. While it’s not a sin to Facebook each day, I have to first make sure that I’ve used my time well in other areas of my life. And so I need to know that each week, for example, I’ve spent more time communicating with you on my blog than I have searching for or “liking” cat videos. I’ll post this calendar in an obvious place.

I’ve already given some time to that basement. You can see that I’m back to writing as well. I’ll let you know how I’m doing. And for the sake of full disclosure, you can see other stabs at self-improvement here and here. None of them were unworthy. They just didn’t stick.

So Happy New Year. And tell me in the comments box how you’re faring with the horrible winter weather and if you are a resolutions kind of person. And I promise I’ll see you soon in another blog post. Because now I will make time for it.

Time doesn't move very fast here or change much. More about this in the future.

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