New Year’s resolutions make me a better person, right? Says who?

Just about everyone, I’m afraid. Seventy-five million plus hits on Google for “new year’s resolutions” suggest the annual lure to magical self-improvement thrives. Nearly half of all Americans make resolutions. The magic of a new decade adds hype. Certainly this will be The Time, finally, to achieve that goal–drop that weight for the final time, tone that flab, toss out that pack of cigarettes, or perhaps evolve into a more patient person, censoring those intermittent cranky verbal explosions. The collective “how to” wisdom gets more specific each year: set manageable goals, change just one habit, own your intentions to others.

Perhaps you are serious about this advice and wish to set a goal you can actually reach this year. I’m at your service–even if I’m launching this on January 4th , not 1st. I could beat myself up about my tardiness, imagining what an experienced blogger would offer (post mapped out weeks in advance, launched at 12:01 a.m. on 01/01/10.) However, a survey reported by proactive says that after the first week, one in four resolutions have already been trashed, just like so much holiday wrapping paper. Perhaps it’s fortuitous that I was distracted by the end of year household mess (execute post-holiday clean-up, donate to charity, submit health savings account receipts, pay property taxes.) Maybe this post will reach you just when you’re sick of yogurt, sore from yoga–and aching to abandon those noble resolutions.

If my procrastination and distraction mean my timing is great, here’s a resolution for you: embrace your humanity. Forget being better at anything. No eating less, exercising more, Zen breathing when some maddening underling (child or employee) eggs you toward one more scream. Affirm that you are a lowly Homo sapiens, not Superwoman/supermodel/supermom. You will make mistakes, lose your temper, oversleep, overindulge in occasional fudge or champagne, miss appointments, and/or swear too much. And you will work to end the judgment about the inescapable fact that you are an imperfect–and still valuable– person. Trust that, most days, you are doing the best you can–and that’s perfectly good.

Shift the focus away from your inevitable screw-ups to your successes. You are a human being with feelings–sometimes powerful ones, which are proof that you are very much ALIVE. Embrace your humanity! You can give your children a valuable lesson: that people, even moms, get mad–and then apologize and say “I love you.” Embrace your humanity! You can leave your favorite coffee cup on top of the van as you back out of the driveway, crush it as you drive off, swerve to the curb as the tire blows, and be late for work or school. S*#! happens, and you survive it. This is a chance to pronounce that even when  life bulldozes right over you, you can embrace your sense of humor –and your humanity.

Resolve to affirm that you are who you are, with strengths that outnumber your weaknesses. Feel good about all that is right with your life, rather than aiming for improvements that are merely icing on the You Cake.  This is, after all, a resolution we all can achieve. And if you work on embracing your humanity all year, one screw up at a time, those other goals have a way of taking care of themselves–or ceasing to matter before 2011 even rolls around.

3 thoughts on “New Year’s resolutions make me a better person, right? Says who?

  1. Sara Miskimins says:

    You’re right on target, Ann! I can still remember the moment I realized that rather than beating myself up for not accomplishing the entire ‘to do’ list I should be congratulating myself for the things I crossed off; even if it was only one thing!
    By the way, thanks for reminding me the taxes need to be paid!

  2. Kathy Yank says:

    I need to print this out and put it on my mirror each morning! Although I do have some new year resolutions for improving myself, I’ll try not to be so demanding that I ‘get it ALL right’! And about those taxes….. well, I think I’ll leave that on Tom’s ‘To Do’ list this year.

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