January 2016 is almost over, and while this may seem obvious to many, it didn’t hit me until a few minutes ago.
Like many, I used to fall heavily into the enticing trap of resolutions. All the things I have shelved in the past few years Will. Be. Accomplished. in 2016. I have a brand new slate to play with, and by gum (um, what?) I will fill it up with pretty stuff, accomplished stuff, and stuff I will forever be proud of: because it will be perfect. 2016 will be an epic poem of my life, and it will be filled with lyrical sounds and wonderful meaning. YES!
No. A thousand times, no.
Why, do I hear you cry in protest? Because perfection isn’t a resolution, it is the result of a gradual progression of effort. Therefore my resolution of losing weight is ridiculous, because ideally I want to get fitter and healthier.
This is not new for me; I had this personal epiphany in early December. Therefore this time I haven’t made resolutions; I’ve got a list of things I want to include in my life.
The second reason I failed hard at maintaining resolutions is because I expected too much of myself. And yes, while that can occasionally be a good thing, introducing too much change all at once has been harmful for me. To continue with the example of losing weight, I started with a gym, a diet, and a water timetable all on the same day. (For the record, it was my birthday last year.) I went to the gym, and discovered that exercise makes you ravenous. Then I discovered that green salad doesn’t not fill you up for long. The next horrifying realisation was that if you suddenly go from drinking hardly any water to 4 litres in one day, you will spend the entire day peeing in the bathroom, or running to the bathroom to avoid peeing everywhere else. (Pro tip: just stay in there.) (Also, don’t do this. It is very bad for your body.)
On the other hand, I have trained my palate to dislike things that are bad for me. Candy is one, cola drinks are another. That isn’t to say that I don’t have the occasional lapse: I most certainly do. But on the whole, I will reach for a glass of water before having a cola. I’ve been like this for years, and I’ve only recently realised that I formed a habit which worked well for me.
Finally, the trap of resolutions was awful for me because I expected it to be 100%. 365 (or 366) days a year, I expected to succeed at every single resolution I had made. I hadn’t given myself breathing space to fall sick, have emergencies, or generally take a day off from my hamster wheel. That was epically stupid. Also, because I inevitably flunked out, I thought of myself as a failure and incapable of doing anything, and thus stopped everything. Another lesson for yours truly: if you flounder, don’t obsess. Pick yourself up, and keep at it. This.. this was challenging for me to do. Giving up entirely, and waiting for a better time is far easier.
This year will be different, no doubt, because I expect that I will improve my lifestyle, reach a few goals organically, and finally feel slightly satisfied (rather than useless and despairing).