Happy 2013 everyone. So while I’m thinking about it, how do you say the new year’s name? Twenty thirteen? Two thousand and thirteen? Both ways sound odd to my ear. Twenty thirteen sounds sort of like a small child who hasn’t figured out that the number 30 comes after 29 and just says “Twenty ten, twenty eleven, twenty twelve, twenty thirteen…”
But I digress.
I’m on record somewhere around here as saying that I really don’t put much stock in New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I think they’re a bad idea. Actually, all the research I’ve encountered in my work shows that it’s actually a really good idea to set goals for yourself. The trick seems to be in narrowing down your desires to a reasonable list and then setting your main goals–and setting out some steps to help you actually achieve those goals. I’ve written several articles this past year on health coaching, and everyone I’ve interviewed has emphasized the importance of not only setting goals but also then breaking down the goals into steps that you can work on. Then you reassess every so often to see how you’re doing.
So, instead of just saying, “I want to lose weight,” you might say “My goal is to lose 25 pounds this year. I am going to work on losing approximately two pounds per month. To do that, I am going to work on these steps that will change my life on a daily basis: I plan to replace my daily soda with sparkling water, eat whole grain toast each morning instead of a bagel, and walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes on weekdays. Other strategies that I’d like to try: I plan to keep a food journal so I’ll know what else I’m eating that might be high in calories, and I’m going to enlist my best friend to walk with me on some of those days to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I’m going to see how it’s all working.” Or something like that.
I’m about to go against all that good advice and say that I’ve sketched out some very broad goals this year but haven’t come up with any good solid steps to help me achieve them. My goals are more like mantras that I can repeat when I’m tempted to violate them. So, without further ado, here they are:
Spend less. Fairly self-explanatory. The holiday season leaves many of us feeling like we need to put our credit cards in the freezer for an extended vacation. Spend less means reconsidering if I really need another T-shirt or scarf. It means trying to cut back on the fast food. It means digging into my closet for a sweater that I might have forgotten about instead of buying a new one. If I’m standing in Target and whisper “spend less” to myself, I can put the bottle of nail polish back on the shelf.
Yell less. When you have young children and you’re not a naturally low-key person who lets things roll off her back, you sometimes (okay, often) find yourself yelling. I don’t like this. After the Newtown, CT, massacre, I made a conscious effort to back way off on being too uptight with my children. They’re children. They’re my children, and I love them. Not that I’m going to let them get away with deliberately bad or rude behavior, but let’s keep the big picture in mind. As MaryAnn McKibben Dana describes in her book Sabbath in the Suburbs, I’m trying to approach things more “Sabbathly.” If I remind myself that the person I want to be is a person who can remember to “yell less,” then hopefully I will…yell less.
Save more. That includes for me and also for my kids. It costs almost $48,000 per year to attend my lovely alma mater these days. Yikes. My husband’s loftier alma mater runs more like $55,000 per year. My oldest child is not quite 7. Imagine what college is going to cost in 2024. Not that we’ll be able to afford to send to him to either of those schools. I’m thinking of enrolling him in lessons for some obscure sport or instrument to see if maybe he can win one of those random-but-lucrative scholarships for that sort of thing. Don’t worry, kids, I do have some plans fulminating for how to achieve this particular goal.
Move more. That is, exercise more, not pile all my worldly possessions into a van and traipse across the country. (I did that in 2001. And again in 2007.) I actually did really well on this front in 2012. I visited the local Y at least three times just about every week, and often, it was more like four or five times per week. I ran some, too. I’d like to do more of that this year. I’m going to figure out how to achieve that later. But just knowing that I have vowed to move more tends to convince me to take the stairs more often or drag the kids to the Y on a day when I’m on the fence about going.
Also, I’d like to learn how to knit. Knit without swearing, that is. But that’s a discussion for another time.