I hate New Year’s resolutions. Hate them. The worst New Year’s days for me were always the ones when my husband would pull out a piece of paper and write “Trotter Family Resolutions” across the top. So we could “pull them out at the end of the year and see how we did”. Great, another completely unrealistic standard to feel bad about not meeting. Just what I need!
The other day I read an article which advised that the key to keeping this year’s resolutions was to set up specific targets. Like “I will exercise 3 times a week and lose 25 lbs by April 1.” Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Seriously. That’s what it said. Like the two are related.
Let me tell you how this really works. I’m not thin. But I do have standards: my belly must not poke out past my boobs. Having and nursing 5 kids has given me some wiggle room to work with, but a couple of years ago, the belly was threatening to overtake the girls upstairs so I decided it was time to get serious about hitting the gym. I worked out 4-5 times a week for an hour. Heavy, sweating, gasping for air aerobic sessions. Nothing. 2 months in I think I had lost 0″ and 3 lbs. That’s a lot of sweating for no results. So I did the obvious; I bought a nice push-up bra. Problem solved! Now that’s a New Year’s resolution I can get behind: buy undergarments that will make me look thinner.
At any rate, aside from the fact that most New Year’s resolutions are unrealistic, there’s the problem of short attention spans. A year is entirely too long for a country where every problem can be solved in 30 minutes with a laugh-track running in the background. Remember those yearly “Trotter Family Resolutions” the my husband lead us in creating? I can only remember actually pulling the list out at the end of the year once. I had carried it in my wallet for the entire year and took it out while we were eating a New Year’s Eve dinner at Denny’s. It was filled with things we had completely forgotten we’d resolved to do. Like have $15K in savings by the end of the year. (Insert hearty guffawing here.) Life is unpredictable. Shiny things show up and distract us. One year I ended the year with 2 more children in my house than I started the year with. Things happen.
On the other hand, a new year is a new start and when you’re really ready to change, it can be just the what you need to give you that push. And maybe if you lose 100 lbs by eating 1 burrito from Chipotle a day for a year, you can be the next Jared and get rich. Strange things happen.
All that being said, I do have 1 honest-to-goodness New Year’s resolution to offer that will make your 2015 more satisfying and productive – and you can even keep it: learn to love Mondays. No I am not kidding. Yes, it is quite likely that the stress of the last few years has caused me to lose my mind, but that’s not relevant here. I’m dead serious. Learn to love Mondays. Allow me to explain.
I view each Monday as a new start. Each week my goal is to end the week in better shape than I began the week. Some weeks I do better than others. But every Monday, I get to start over. Whatever did or didn’t happen the previous week is in the past. Monday is a clean slate. A mini-low-pressure New Year’s each and every week, if you will.
So this year, resolve to get in the habit taking a few minutes either Sunday night or early Monday morning to mentally put away one week and prepare for the next. Just think about the past week and what went well and what didn’t. If something went well, give yourself a little “good work”. If something didn’t go well, try to think of what you might be able to do differently.
A lot of times, this weekly review is my a reality check. It’s where I can either own my mistakes or let go of guilt for something I’m not actually responsible for. If I got behind on the laundry and now feel like it’s going to eat me and my slovenly self, it helps to remember that I had 3 kids puking on everything the previous week. Let it go. But if I stayed up too late and the kids missed the bus twice the previous week, well that’s a good reminder that I need to focus on keeping an earlier bedtime this week.
This little weekly review is a good way to keep my worst tendencies from getting out of hand while also allowing me to let go of the negative emotions I am prone to. At the end of my little weekly review, I feel good about my prospects for the week, I have some simple goals to focus on for the week and some ideas for how to achieve them. I’m ready for Monday.
Over the years, I have found that if I can get Monday right, the rest of the week tends to go much smoother. I know, I know; Monday is the day that everything goes wrong. Except it’s not. It’s just the day of the week that people get most bent out of shape by the things that go wrong. Simply going into your Monday with a a plan, some excitement and a positive outlook pretty well eliminates that, though.
And it’s a self-reinforcing behavior. Once you have some good Mondays under your belt, you will naturally start looking forward to Mondays. And since Monday’s show up every week, this is a resolution that becomes a habit quite easily.
So there’s the one New Year’s resolution you should actually make this year: learn to love Mondays. You can thank me later.
BTW, this is one of the ideas that I share in my book The Upside World’s Guide to Enjoying the Hard Life. If 2014 left you feeling a bit beat up and you’re hoping for a kinder, gentler 2015, this book is for you. It’s filled with practical, easy ideas for thriving in the face of whatever life throws your way. For less than the cost of a latte, you can’t beat it!