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The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions

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12/17/2014

The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions photo

All I can think about are New Year’s resolutions as we speed into 2015. It’s probably because I’m so terrible at them.

I find rules, restrictions and absolutes to be difficult to manage. When I hear the word resolution, all I can think about is what I’m not going to be able to do. Then, like clockwork, I obsess about what I can’t have while stress eating everything in my apartment. All of these feelings can only lead to one thing: doing exactly what I resolved I would definitely not do. It’s a vicious cycle, and I repeat it every year.

I know I’m not the only person who gets into this trap. I start out with high hopes. I do a little inventory of myself and then decide that real changes must take place. Then comes my list. I will train for a marathon. I will read Moby Dick. I will not have ice cream for dinner. These resolutions aren’t so bad, but in all honesty, I’m not likely to do any of those things very well.

That’s the problem with resolutions. It’s not that the bar is set too high, it’s that the resolutions, it least in my mind, are too absolute. What if instead of giving yourself strict edicts for the coming year, you cut yourself a little slack? I’m not sure that I have the time it takes to train for a marathon, but what if I try anyway? Reading Moby Dick sounds awful, but I don’t have to complete the whole book in one afternoon. Not eating ice cream for dinner doesn’t mean that I can’t have ice cream, it means that I try to remain mindful of what I’m eating.

Isn’t it better to work at something? Perhaps failing at a New Year’s resolution is part of the process. Maybe it’s better to be a bad marathoner who tries than to be someone who gives up and isn’t running at all. Could it be that all of those past resolution failures were just part of the deal?

This year, I’m going to give myself a few New Year’s resolutions and I’m going to try to give myself the space to achieve them. Whatever that means. Just don’t laugh in my face when I’m running around calling myself a vegan. I’m never going to be a vegan, but maybe I can be a bad vegan? It’s better than nothing.

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