Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Goals=an artificial attempt to convince ourselves to do things we are unmotivated to do (perhaps because we really don't want to?).

New Year's Day=a reasonable time to examine your life and decide what needs to change.

The thing about resolutions, though, is we are almost always destined to fail that them because we can see what we want to change, but there is no even cursory examination of WHY we want those things to change and why we haven't changed them yet.

For example, how many people set the goal to lose weight? Maybe almost everyone? But do they ever ask Why am I overweight? Why do I want to lose weight? If I care so much, why haven't I done it? It seems like the answers to those questions would be integral to the success of the endeavor. And, if answered honestly, the questions might also reveal our greater desires. Do we really want increased health and energy by losing weight, or are we after greater social acceptance and power? And if it's social acceptance we want, perhaps a little counseling and a few superficial changes or behavioral changes that are easier to make would help us achieve the real goal better than a doomed diet-and-exercise plan we don't want to follow that doesn't make us feel good.

Without a greater understanding of what we want and are trying to do, the old habits will persist and the resolutions will fail. Very few people have the will power necessary to do something difficult simply because they decided to. And what's the value in that, anyway?

Generally speaking, I avoid making New Year's Resolutions. My idea is that the day a problem becomes apparent is the day you should resolve to fix it and do whatever self-examination is necessary to make the change--that is the moment of greatest motivation, after all.  Likewise, we should be re-examining our lives frequently, not just once a year, and resolving to fix things that might not have come up as a "problem". If I understand it correctly, we are supposed to be doing this before Tithing Settlement, Temple recommend interviews, when we get callings at church, and, quite frankly, every week in preparation for partaking the sacrament. YES we need something to remind us to examine-and-resolve, but it should happen a lot more often than when a giant lighted ball drops. Frequent re-examination also helps you stick with your resolutions--and weed out the ones that are unimportant or impractical.

Choosing resolutions this way helps me focus my resolutions on the things that my limited energy really should go to, rather than superficial or artificial things or things that really aren't practical to "goal."

So if I were to make New Year's Resolutions, what would they be?

Not to have a clean house, but to care less if it's messy.
Not to lose the baby weight, but to enjoy the baby.
Not to read my scriptures for more hours or more pages, but to get more out of them when I read.
Not to make more money, but to be more thankful for the money we have.
Not to eat less junk, but to enjoy food more.
Not to talk to the kids more, but to listen to them more.
Not to have less fighting in the house, but have more playing together.
Not to get more exercise, but to do more things I enjoy doing.
Not to get more done, but to listen to myself more and do the things that I will say, when I'm 90, I'm glad I did that (and, honestly, do I think having cleaner toilets are going to be on that list? No.).
And to stop feeling guilty for the stuff I think I maybe ought to have done but didn't do.

There isn't time in life to waste on things that won't matter in the long run. So why make resolutions to do those things?

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