New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. It not only speaks to my inner overachiever, but it plays into my sense of self-loathing! Seriously, though, I make resolutions for myself throughout the year–there’s always something that can and ought to be improved upon, some new skill I’d like to acquire, or some magical change I’d like to make–but on New Year’s, it’s culturally sanctioned. When the calendar changes, we change. That’s the idea, anyway.
Now, you might be thinking that no one really follows through with resolutions past, say, February, but I do. One year I resolved to eat (on average) seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day. That one lasted through the summer. One year I resolved to try as many new foods as possible and to revisit foods I thought I didn’t like. I blogged about that one, to try to keep myself honest. That lasted a solid ten months (the holidays, which for me begin on my October birthday, always trip me up). One year I resolved to get involved in the theater and spent the next five years constantly in or working on the crew of a play.
Every year, I come up with literally hundreds of things I’d like to change, but I’ve found that the only way I can follow through and feel successful is to focus on one item, and it can’t be anything I have to do every day because if I miss one, I feel like I failed and am apt to give up entirely. (Note how my fruit and veg resolution included the phrase on average–there’s built-in amnesty and a chance to play catch-up). It also shouldn’t be too specific. If I say I’ll lose 15 pounds and I only lose 12, I feel like a failure. If I say I’ll run three times a week and I get a long-running cold: failure.
Last year, I think I made the hardest resolution of all. I resolved not to make a resolution. (In itself: failure. But only semantically.) I decided to wake up on New Year’s Day and just chill out. I was only a few weeks postpartum, after all. I wasn’t physically ready to jump on a treadmill or cut any calories. I was too sleep deprived to spend much time reading or writing or learning to make Viennoiserie. So I took it easy. I mean, I made an intricate tiramisu cake and had friends over for brunch, but both those things are genuinely fun for me, plus our friends brought half the food. And you know what? After that relaxed, high-calorie New Year’s Day, I proceeded to lose fifty pounds. Of course, the nursing helped, but I did a lot of work to get there–part of that work was keeping myself from imposing too much stricture.
Which brings me to this year’s resolution. I’ve had a list scrolling through my head for a while now, full of possibilities. The front runner has been an old go-to: “Be healthier.” This seems especially apt given that I spent most of yesterday sleeping, as I came down with my first stomach flu in years, and that I’ve been sick off and on since October–a fact I can easily trace to my poor eating habits and inability to ever take a real sick day (the girl pined after me yesterday, and if I wasn’t sleeping, she clung to me with all her might). And I do want to “be healthier”–I intend to be–but I don’t think I’ll make it my resolution. I don’t think I’ll make one at all. Instead, I’m choosing a mantra of sorts. It’s one of my favorite quotes of all time, one I often go to when I’m feeling low, but I’m going to try to keep it at the top of my head. It was Walt Disney who said:
Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.