I don't mean to be all bah-humbuggery, but I really cannot stand New Year's resolutions. No offense to those who love them –- I know they can really help rev proverbial engines, and that's great.
Resolutions, even when not followed through on, work like a reset button. I get that. Sure, maybe 2013 was kind of sucky, but now with this detailed set of goals, 2014 will be better. It's not the goal-setting I have issues with. I love goals. My life is basically a culmination of tasks laid out on sticky notes.
The issue I have with resolutions is the actual word "resolution," which comes across as very aggressive and rigid. Resolutions leave no room for wiggling or mind-changing, meaning they often set you up for failure.
If you've resolved to go to bed by 11 every weeknight of 2014 and then on January 5th you find yourself up at 2 am working on a deadline or stalking your ex on Twitter or watching "Mad Men," then you've already blown it. And since you've already blown it, then why not stay up until 4? Why sleep at all? A little 5 am espresso and you're good to go...
It could just be me, but I think a lot of our brains are wired to work definitively. We think in extremes (good and bad), which means if we make a mistake, as we're eventually bound to do, we write it off as failure. We've messed it up -– there's no turning back.
Psychologically speaking, this habit is called “splitting” or “all-or-nothing thinking.” This good vs. bad line of thought represents our failure (ah! That word again!) to bring together both positive and negative qualities to form a cohesive whole. Basically, it's a defense mechanism, i.e., I already screwed up, so why not eat the whole cake.
It's for this reason that I like the word "intention" over “resolution.” Intention is much less intimidating, and creates less room for black and white failure.
Let's put this idea into play. Since I mentioned cake earlier, I will use a dieting example. If we're on a strict diet, and we blow it in the morning, we're more likely to eat cupcakes all afternoon. However, if we've simply set an intention to eat more healthfully and breakfast was a donut, then we can still aim to eat well in the afternoon. By not setting strict lines to follow, we're less likely to crumble when we get a little off track. It's all just mental trickery, but it seems to hold true.
And so, the word intention. You can intend to see family more this year, or spend less money, or enjoy more quiet evenings at home crocheting. But you're not married to those ideas –- they are just that: ideas.
This year, I intend to be more patient. That's it. Impatience is my brain's archenemy. I'm always in a hurry, nothing is ever done fast enough, and I don't like waiting. If I am waiting for something, I feel like my head is going to explode. This makes it difficult to work creatively with others, have a healthy relationship, go shopping on black friday... Also, it's a bit ridiculous.
I get anxious in the line at the grocery store, like I have some place better to be or important people to see, even if that place is just at home, and the people are really just my sweat pants. Again, mental trickery! The brain is a terror sometimes, really.
So tell me, how do you feel about resolutions? Have you set any? What are they?