I live by my to-do lists. I always have at least one—sometimes many more—going on a given day. And I'm a goal-maker. I always have something new I'm setting my sights on, that I'm trying to do or accomplish.

So it should come as no surprise that I've also always been the sort to make new year's resolutions.

In the back of my mind, I know full well that before January even ends most resolutions are abandoned, forgotten, left to gather dust on a note pad shoved in the back of a drawer. And yet each year, dutifully, I make my list. I've done it since I was in high school.

Those lists from my later teen years are buried in my old journals which, in turn, are currently buried in tubs in our laundry room closet. If I were to dig them out right now, they would likely sound awfully similar to the resolutions I've made every year for more than 10 years now.

There's always something jotted down about health and wellness, about working out more and eating less junk. There's always something about improving relationships. Often I have some variation on "read more" or "write more" or "worry less."

Each year around this time I read the many magazine articles about how to make this year's resolutions stick. I know all the things you need to do to succeed: Be specific about what you want to accomplish, rather than writing in general terms. Limit yourself to three or five or however many single-digit resolutions you can realistically accomplish. Put your list in a visible place so you are reminded often of what your goals are. Ya da ya da ya da.

I resolutely follow the advice each year. I write down everything I want to do. I usually have some semblance of success at first. But ask me on Feb. 1 what this year's resolutions were and odds are I'll only be able to recite a vague approximation of what I put down.

Yesterday, on Jan. 1, as all good resolution-makers do, I started thinking about what I wanted to resolve to do better, to do differently, or just to do in 2013.

I want to work out more consistently, something I need to do for my body and my sanity and my overall health but that often falls to the wayside recently. I might want to try the run 365 miles in a year goal. I want to get back to doing yoga at least (at the very least) once a week.

I want to get organized—really organized. I want to declutter the house. Seriously declutter. Like, donate or recycle half of the items in our house. I want to remodel our kitchen, sand the front window Butter has destroyed, repaint a few places, replace the dreadful front door, tear out the bushes ... I better stop that list now, because it could go on forever.

I want to devote more time to my family, to keeping in touch with my dear friends, to actually responding to the emails I read.

I want to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. I want to meet some new people, to be more social.

Sometimes the things I want to do seem to stand in direct opposition to other things on my list.

I want to eat healthier—more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, less junk. But I also want to bake more. I want to stop multitasking and learn to focus on one thing at a time. Yet I also want to ramp up my freelance career; get a steady teaching job; blog more; stay on top of all the cooking and cleaning and household to-dos; read more good books; write more for myself; take up knitting or crocheting (I think I say that every year and never do it); on and on and on. And there isn't enough time to do all those things!

I want to be fully present in every moment. I want to stop making so many damn to-do lists. I want to realize it's OK to play with Little Man for an hour and not try to sneak in dusting the living room or scrubbing the toilet in the middle of play time. I want to appreciate quiet moments sitting and drinking tea and staring out the window, rather than spending every waking moment thinking, "OK, what do I need to do next?"

I could go on, but I think you're getting the gist of it.

So how do I take this big, long, rambling list of wants and wishes and make it nice and compact and manageable and specific and attainable?

I've decided I don't.

I've decided making new year's resolutions in the traditional form is a waste of my time and my energy and in the end probably just stresses me out more, because then I spend time trying to figure out how to add those resolutions to my already too-long to-do list.

Besides, I don't need a list of resolutions because, I realized yesterday, everything I want to accomplish in the coming year boils down to one simple statement:

I want to do what makes me happy.

Cliche, I know. But it encompasses everything I try to do with my resolutions each year.

Some days, decluttering the whole house will make me incredibly happy (at least when it's accomplished). Cutting all junk out of my diet for a while will likely make me happy (and will make me feel better). But if whipping up a batch of scones or chocolate chip cookies will make me happy, I'll do that instead (and maybe eat just one a day instead of three). If relaxing on the couch with the boys will make me happier than crossing six things off my Sunday to-do list, I should do that. In this scenario, anything that makes me happy is a big, important accomplishment.

Will this new, single, non-resolution resolution work? Will I remember it and still be trying to accomplish it on Feb. 1? Who knows. But it's worth trying.

1 comment:

Jess Schuttler said...

I LOVE this "non-resolution"! You can do it! One happy decision at a time, one after another. ;)