Every social media platform is currently filled to bursting with ideas on how to live better in 2019 than you did in 2018. There are swirly motivational quotes, mystifying before-and-afters, and at least 3 things being advertised to you on Instagram that you maybe only thought about one time, and hey how did they know I was thinking that again??
Perhaps you’re in the 10% of people who make resolutions that stick, but I am not (hello fellow 90%). Make a list of really ambitious goals, forge an intense schedule, and promptly “forget” by January 27 (if I’m lucky). Inevitably, my list of intentions makes me feel BOTH overwhelmed and oppressed, but I am the tyrant. The issue has a lot to do with this quote:
If your goal was to get healthy in 2018, maybe you made your resolution to start a really SUPER intense workout plan every day, and ONLY eat things that are green. Maybe that failed day 10 when you realized you really actually hate the color green and you’re allergic to the metal that makes up every piece of equipment at your gym. You worked out and ate healthy for about 20 days, then stopped.
If you had made your resolution something simple, maybe you would have stuck with it longer. Instead of the oppressive do a workout I hate for 7 hours every week and also, no more cake it could have been walk, move, stretch, or do something outside every day plus eat a fruit I like. Assuming you’re not a perfect human, but still pretty good at following an easy habit, maybe you got 300 walks in and a couple hundred apples and bananas. More than that, you would have gotten into a healthy habit, that maybe even would have eventually expanded into that ideal you originally had.
Let’s say your goal was something else. Let’s say you, like me, wanted to write more in 2018, or practice an instrument, or learn a new language, or ride your tricycle more (I’m not judging). If you go in with the idea that you need to write a BOOK or play your first song perfectly for an hour each night or be fluent by February, you’re setting a trap, and it’s for yourself. You fall for it every TIME.
If you had made a resolution like write one sentence a day or play one note a day, a resolution so decidedly not sexy and embarrassingly doable, you probably would have stuck with it. And maybe, by now, you would be fluent, or at least MUCH closer than you are now. I would have written more than four pieces this year (oops).
When we think about resolutions, having an ideal that inspires us and puts a fire under our asses is WONDERFUL and NECESSARY. When it comes to what we expect from ourselves, though, we have to reckon with the fact that we change like everything else: slowly, reluctantly, and awkwardly.
Make your resolutions tiny. So, so small. Like flossing one tooth small. Make it impossible to fail. Make it to put on your running shoes, to text one friend, to eat one fruit, to have 60 seconds of prayer.
You and I are a lot less likely to make excuses when we go in this little way.
We are also a lot more likely to reach that big dream without giving up by starting here in this small, ordinary, wonderful place.
P.S. My resolution is to write one crappy thing every day, and the next few will be about RESOLUTIONS and HABITS (my favorite). Sorry that you may have to read some of it! But, in the words of Anne Lamott:
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.”
P.S. My resolution is to write one crappy thing every day, and the next few will be about RESOLUTIONS and HABITS (my favorite).
Tomorrow we talk about how change is good, but how change driven by the fact that we think we are an asshole is not amazing. Groundbreaking stuff, I tell you.