Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Resolutions: Why do we do them?

My Hubby has challenged me about my insistence on making New Year's Resolutions. He referenced this article on Lifehacker about how resolutions promote "deficit thinking."

I'm not going to pretend I'm a better person than I am. I told him where to get off.

But perhaps I was too hasty.

When I was young, everybody made resolutions. It was just what you did. And everyone broke them. That, too, was part of the ritual of the New Year - a sort of life/death cycle that recognizes we all have room for improvement, and yet we're so human, we can't actually do something as drastic as change.

This was back in the old days, when if you had a temper, that was just who you were - it wasn't something you worked on or read self-help books to fix. It was just the way things were with you and everybody knew it and took it into account. Certainly, people crossed you - and then you had to decide whether you were bigger and badder than the person who'd made you angry. For years, people treaded lightly around my Papaw, because that man had a quick temper, a mean streak a county wide, and a tongue that would make the devil blush. So people didn't mess with him.

Call it playground therapy: You could have a temper, but one day there might be a bigger bully who'd make you regret it. Eventually, most people developed temperance about their outbursts.

Now, many people simply refuse to make resolutions, which always strikes me as A. cycnical and B. arrogant. But it's probably neither - most likely people are just responding to the new expectation that they will actually work on their resolutions and, before next year rolls around, change themselves in some fundamental way.

And who wants to do that?

Certainly, it is stressful to always be working on something, to always be trying to fix yourself. And shouldn't your family be the one place where you can relax and be loved for who you are, flaws and all?

Over the years, I've learned you can promise change all you want, but with family, you must simply change. Don't tell them you're going to - they won't believe you. Others might offer support, guideance and hold out hope for your change. But family watch your actions and that is what they will believe.

I have lots of goals for my family. I want us to have great family dinners with long discussions. The reality is I have a three-year-old who seldom wants to eat with us, I usually need a nap and then to work, and Hubby is usually running off - literally: He's a runner. And really, we're all fine with that.

I want us to be more outdoorsy as a family, but often we're too tired to do much at the end of the day and weekends we spend playing catch up. Plus, have you ever tried to get a preschooler to go on a long hike? Our Little One is not particularly athletic and doesn't seem to have any outdoors inclinations at all.

So I think I'll keep it simple. Here are my new New Year's Resolutions:
1. Take a family walk once a week, weather permitting. I'm not going out there in the snow, rain or extreme cold. Little One can take her big wheel.
2. Show the Love to my family. Too often, I'm grumpiest to those I love the most. This year, I am resolved to show the love more. I won't promise not to be grumpy - that ain't happening. But I will promise to show affection more.
3. Write a will by spring. Step one: Try out the software I have that lets you write your own will. This has been on the backburner for some time, but since I like to view myself as a responsible parent, I want to get this done.
4. Do something for someone else as a family once a month. I wanted to do a volunteer project with Little One, but after some research, I think that may be too ambitious for now. So, instead, I'm going to look for opportunities to do good things as a family, even if it's just having friends over for dinner.
5. Do something each week/month that makes my house a home. This may be as simple as buying new towels.

So those are my resolution.

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