It’s the first week of the New Year. You’ll be happy to hear I’ve been 100 percent successful with my New Year’s resolutions because I didn’t make any. Again. Call me jaded, but starting January with a hangover and assertions that you’ll finally lose weight, eat right, quit smoking, or get organized, seems a little arbitrary. Why didn’t you complete those goals last year? Why January and not June? What’s going to make 2011 different than 2010? Or 1998 for that matter?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about setting goals. I go through periods where I want to reinvent myself right down to my hair color. Rearrange the furniture. Buy new bathroom towels. I have goals for every week, every day, and sometimes every hour. Things I want to get done. Projects I’d like to accomplish. Situations I’d like to think about differently. And just like Rene, many moments I wish I yelled less. I’m not very good at accomplishing many of these things, and items on my to-do list often get moved from week to week. Making resolutions only once a year sets me up for failure; a one-shot attempt at getting something right. Then life happens, throws me off course and derails my train. If I make little goals every day, every week, I increase my chances of success significantly. I’m all about success.
How do I know? Experience. Two-thousand-something was going to be the year I got in shape. Losing weight isn’t really an issue I have (currently), but I’m sure my heart and lungs could use more oxygen. Inspired by the truly fabulous infomercials for the P90X Extreme Home Workout Program, I purchased the DVD’s. The people touting the program looked a lot like me—in the before portion of course—and if they could look that amazing in the after portion, so could I. Everyone I talked with said the program was awesome. They loved it. Totally motivating and you saw results from the beginning. And it was. And it did. For awhile.
Then I realized there are tidbits of information those buff bodies fail to mention. Like it’s helpful to have wrists larger than 1.9” in diameter (which is the actual measurement of my freakishly thin wrists) for the one million pull ups and push ups you have to complete daily. It’s also helpful to live in a single level home, since your leg muscles will not be able to effectively manipulate stairs for the entire 90 days. I finally quit when I realized that the program’s very name was a double entendre, and all the jumping, running, and bouncing made me pee a little every 90 seconds! Holding my crotch when I sneeze or cough is bad enough…I don’t want to try and do that while exercising. Additionally, wearing poise pads and spandex is really not sexy. I like to consider myself a veteran of the P30X program, because that’s how long I lasted. In the end I decided to take deeper breaths, thereby helping my heart and lungs in the long run. Plus it’s a lot cheaper and doesn’t make me urinate.
In years past, I’ve also resolved to become more organized. I come from a long line of organizers, my grandmother was an incredible inspiration as she outlined and labeled her kitchen objects in black sharpie on the walls of her pantry. Stock pot. 8” skillet. Tongs. Electric carving knife. There was no excuse for not knowing where the 2-quart saucepan went, just look for the damn shape. Even a monkey could do it. Or my grandfather.
But not of course, my children. I could outline every darn item in our home with black sharpie, transforming each wall into black-lined coloring book pages if I thought it would help my children and husband know where the hell to hang something. Or put something away. I could bin, box and coat rack every room in this house, but none of it would matter because my family would not use them. The problem isn’t that I’m clueless about how to organize or that I lack the tools and baskets to be effective. The problem is that no one listens to me. No one gives a rat’s ass about the labels. Last year I finally hung wooden pegs by the front door for my children’s winter jackets. Where do they keep them? On the floor under the wooden pegs. I installed a hundred dollars worth of IKEA kitchen jars and plastic cups for my daughter’s myriad craft supplies. Where are those sparkly pompoms and craft sticks now? All over her desk and on the floor. And I finally quit nagging my husband to open the hamper to put away his dirty clothes and simply removed the lid. You might think those clothes reside in the bottom of the hamper, but you’d be wrong. They’re on the floor in front of the hamper. Maybe the open container threw him off.
No one in any how-to article I’ve ever read acknowledges that New Year’s Resolutions—even the best ones—can’t be accomplished without buy-in from the very people you’re trying to overhaul. In order for my New Year’s resolutions to come true, I’d need to make their resolutions as well, which would namely be, “Listen and follow everything mom/wife asks—without question and complaint.” Call me a skeptic, but I don’t see this happening.
Rather than purchase bins and boxes no one will use or cookbooks for healthy, low fat meals no one will eat, I should invest in a two-by-four. I could beat it against my own head when I (once again) realize the futility of trying to force square pegs into round holes. I could prop that two-by-four on kitchen chairs and stand on it, gaining perspective on my life when I feel overwhelmed. I could name it “Reality” and it could be my best friend; my very own “Wilson” in the island of my life. I’d even buckle it up in the van and let it have a latte.
No, this year I think I’ll skip the big once-a-year resolutions in favor of small, weekly, or daily goals. Sometimes my biggest goal of the day is to get dressed and quit working in pajamas. Other times I think big and want to repaint the bathroom or wash the floors. (I hate washing floors which catapults its status to a big goal.) I’d like to try and complement my children more than I did yesterday. Or serve dinner before 7 p.m. Pay bills. Talk with my husband. They aren’t lofty things to do, in fact they’re downright mediocre. But sometimes mediocre is all I’ve got, and putting one foot in front of the other is my biggest strength. Tomorrow I can try to tackle the world. Or the living room.
For today, I’m going to put away Christmas decorations. Get the kids ready for school again. Fold laundry. Oh, and exercise. Which consists of deeply breathing in and out. Looks like it’s going to be a busy day. The good news is I’m pretty sure I’ll accomplish all the items on my list, which helps me feel successful. And that’s a great way to start my new year.
Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at www.eastcoastmusings.blogspot.com. You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one.