It’s that time of year … resolution time, when the human population cleanses, declutters, joins gyms, purchases aspirational organizing systems, tries to quit bad habits and start good ones.
I don’t remember ever making a New Year’s resolution. So, I’m probably sitting around my grossly cluttered hoarder house, puffing on cancer sticks while I ponder my uncleansed, putrefying colon.
Fortunately none of that is true. My house is almost always really tidy and clean. I quit smoking decades ago (wish I had never started), I do various forms of physical activity regularly. As for the whole colon cleansing concept, I think it does its job fine on its own, thank you.
I don’t want to cast aspersions on people who truly benefit from New Year’s resolutions, but the truth is, I have never met such a person. I have met a lot of people who make grand plans at the beginning of the year, make a great start out of the gate, then lose steam sometime in February.
I think this loss of steam is an inevitable aspect of the New Year’s resolution process, at least for most people. It’s asking for too much change, too quickly and abruptly. People aren’t like that. They don’t transform overnight. Real change happens as a process, over time. It’s like trying to run a marathon but giving it your all right at the start. Unless you pace yourself you’ll burn out right away and not only will you not run the marathon, you might not even make it past the first mile.
There must be some reason people go for the grand gestures. I think resolutions tap into a need we have to think big, and see immediate results. And I know they tap into our tendency to forget what doesn’t work, and try it again, and again, and again, even if it doesn’t work over and over and over.
So, I’m not going to make any resolutions for 2016. What I am going to do is continue with my current behaviors and try to add some new habits. I have been wanting to start playing the piano again regularly. Unlike writing, which I sometimes have to force myself to continue doing (right now for example – I would rather go to sleep), playing the piano is something that once I start, I have to force myself to stop.
It’s one of the few activities that causes me to completely lose track of time. Because of this, I don’t sit down to play as often as I want – because I think, “well, I’ll get started, then it will suddenly be 3 hours later, and I will get to bed too late. So, I just won’t start.” This isn’t working for me – I really miss playing. So, I’m going to work on a new habit – 2 times a week, after dinner, instead of sitting down in front of Hulu or Netflix, I’ll sit down at the piano and see where it takes me.
I’m also going to finish writing the sequel to Raising John. I meant to do it last year, then a career change got in the way and sucked up all my brainspace. All good, because I like my new career, but it’s time to write some more fiction.
Unlike some writers, I don’t do good work when I write a little bit every day. I seem to write best when I set aside large chunks of time and go into the zone. So, rather than try to create a daily or weekly writing habit this year, I’m going to wrestle my calendar into submission and find some multi-day chunks of time that I will reserve for writing that sequel.
I would love to hear from others who have either had success with resolutions, or have decided on some habit changes. What habits have you developed or changed? What resolutions have worked or not?
And, whatever your method or aspirations, Happy New Year!