When Nicole was still in grade school, she posted some New Year’s Resolutions on our fridge. From a distance, I thought, “Well, isn’t that nice. She’s keeping them at eye level where she can constantly refer to her list.”
However, on closer inspection, I noticed this list was for the rest of the family. Ah, yes, our girl had thoughtfully analyzed her parents and brothers, and compiled a list to help us out of our emotional squalor. If I remember right, and I do, the one she chose for me was to stick with what I kept saying I would do (get in shape, for one). And I must admit, keeping one’s word is a virtue. So is getting in shape.
But these are tough goals to set. A better method would be to attack the goal with a program of daily effort, not just scribble down a lofty goal with no apparent steps to take you there. And I think that’s the problem with resolutions—they’re too sweeping, too grand. Rather than a gigantic result that you can’t even measure, a better goal would be “Walk 20 blocks a day,” or “do 50 sit-ups a day.” Goals need to start small and be measurable.
So here’s a list of goals not to set. I am giving you the gift of freedom from trying to do the impossible in one deft brush stroke. I’m also pointing out some goals that are unrealistic, and will only leave you feeling like a failure. Here are things that make bad resolutions:
1. Always park far away from the store and walk. Great idea, but it gets sacrificed within the first week if you’re in a hurry. Just do it when you can.
2. Eat only organic foods. Unless you get invited to someone’s house. Or there’s a great little restaurant you’re dying to try. Or the local bakery has something decadent in the window. This one should fall under “moderation in all things,” not Absolute Commandments.
3. Organize family photos. Ah, yes, the box of stuff Mom gave you that her mom gave her. How about this, instead? Just write names (and dates, if you can) on the backs of the old photos? Next year, group them into families or years. The year after that, tackle one grouping and put them in an album. Then the next grouping. Make this a work in progress, not a back-breaking race with an unrealistic finish line.
4. Finish Christmas shopping before December. Okay, my OCD side actually does this, and I save money by shopping sales all year and tucking things away. But if you think of something in December, or you need a gift you didn’t know about, it’s not the end of the world. Just go get it.
5. Floss daily. Truly a noble plan. But if you stayed up until 2:00 a.m. working on an assignment, and you’re dead tired, your teeth will not fall out if you skip this routine.
6. Spend less time on electronics. Yep, videogames and social media are taking over. So give yourself a schedule, and cut back if it’s gotten out of control. But put a number to it—a number of minutes, say. Otherwise it’s just a nebulous wish. (And for heaven’s sake, keep reading this blog and watching my youtube channel!)
7. Keep all shoes in see-through boxes. This goes along with all other organizing tricks and methods (which I happen to love), but I will simply say this: If you’re not wired to organize in bins and files, don’t beat yourself up. Hyper organized people will already be living like this, and people who aren’t, will only be frustrated trying to be something they’re not. Find your own style.
8. Pack seasonal clothes in acid-free paper. (Sigh.)
9. Transfer videos to DVD. I have set this goal every few months for the last 12 years. My most recent step in the right direction was to borrow an old camcorder from a friend, so I can actually screen and organize my old 8mm videotapes. Now I need to set aside one evening a week to work on it. Pray for me.
10. Keep house spotless. Better: Keep house happy.
11. Revise all recipes to low fat. This, in itself, is a recipe. A recipe for misery. Do not remove all the fat from your food; simply eat smaller portions. Then, at least what you do eat, will be divine.
12. Iron sheets. Love the idea, but reality intervenes and beds must be made, whether you were able to conquer this enormous task or not. Iron the pillowcases and call it good.
13. Live on a budget. Yes, we are fools to go into debt. But instead of a blanket statement like that, break it into tiny parts: Consolidate bills. Eliminate all credit cards but one. Sit down with an advisor. Make a list of purchases we can cut. Eat this elephant one bite at a time.
Now here’s an easier resolution to being new and improved: Just subscribe to my Youtube channel here, and every weekday you’ll get a new, short video that teaches you all the life skills you need!