by Margaret Cabaniss
This time last year, I went on a bit of a tear about how I don’t like New Year’s resolutions: too much pressure, too vague, too likely to fail. Instead, I listed four “non-resolutions” — specific activities that I wanted to do in 2012, rather than the usual “be better” admonitions. I wasn’t sure how they’d pan out, but I had fun thinking up the short list anyway.
Fast forward to a year later, and I naturally thought back to that list — and to my surprise, I realized that I had (almost) crossed off every item! That…was unexpected, and unexpectedly awesome. Here’s a quick look back at my 2012 goals, and how they panned out.
1. Run in a 10K.
Ok, so my non-resolutions mostly panned out…except for this one. I did a fair amount of running in 2012, but I never got around to signing up for an official 10K. I did run in a 5K in South Bend, IN, while I was helping out my sister after her baby was born: I showed up at Notre Dame’s “Domer Run” the morning of, plunked down my $15, collected a race T, and had a lovely little jog around campus, all before breakfast. It was so easy to do, it actually chafed more that I never got around to doing a longer race.
Still, I learned two things from the fail: One, 5Ks are my new “quick jog around the neighborhood” distance — which is an achievement in itself, considering I once wondered whether I’d ever be able to last five minutes. Two, if I really want to push myself to go further, I just need to sign up for a race already and then worry about training for it; otherwise, I’ll just be putting it off all year while I “mentally prepare.” Duly noted.
2. Travel somewhere new.
Hello, Seattle! This was an unexpected gift that fell into my lap this year, and I couldn’t be more grateful that I got to do it. Contrary to what I was thinking, the trip didn’t come about due to any advance planning on my part, but through the generosity of various family members and my own willingness to pack up and go. No real lesson here, other than “say yes to a golden opportunity,” which is usually safe advice.
Knit Make something I can wear.
So yes, I had to fudge this one a bit to make it count, but the general gist is the same: I stopped pinning endless project ideas and finally got around to making one — this seersucker skirt from last summer. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun to make and wear, and it got me over my lingering fear of using the sewing machine: I’ve noticed that I sewed a lot more things in the second half of 2012 than I did in the first, which is a victory all its own. Maybe that scarf can be a 2013 project…
4. Shoot something.
Done and done. I defy anyone to have more fun fulfilling a New Year’s resolution.
All things considered, I’m pretty pleased — and a little surprised — with how well my non-resolutions worked out. It’s definitely made me rethink my opposition to resolutions in general; I think keeping the list specific, attainable, and fun went a long way toward ensuring it would actually get done. And being able to look back over a tangible list of accomplishments for the past year — no matter how small — was pretty darn gratifying.
That being the case, I’ve been mulling over my to-do list for 2013. (Yes, I know we’re almost halfway through January already. You could call it being late to the game, but I prefer to think of it as bucking the resolution trend. The new year starts when I say it does!) I’m trying to keep a mix of big and small items on the list, with maybe a few repeats of things I didn’t quite get to last year: run that 10K already, for real this time (or should I just go straight for the half?); read a book on Gettysburg before the 150th anniversary this summer; learn to do a headstand; kayak on the French Broad… Whatever I decide, I’ll definitely put it in writing somewhere to help keep me on track.
Still looking for ways to make your resolutions stick? Try one of these ideas:
Sarah Goldschadt’s free print-out for a “100 Resolutions for 2013” list (via Maggie at Mighty Girl) would be a fun motivator to hang over your desk. Yes, 100 resolutions is crazy, but even just trying to think up that many goals can help get the creative juices flowing. Or, write up half your list ahead of time, then leave the other half blank to fill in with the surprise achievements and milestones — big or small — that you hit along the way. Whether or not you reach them all by the end of 2013, it’ll make for a fun snapshot of your year.
For something a little more focused, try Liz Stanley’s approach at Say Yes to Hoboken: Make one small resolution per week (Liz suggests reading for an hour a day, going vegan, etc.). This approach only requires you to be resolved in concentrated bursts, rather than all 365 days of 2013, making it more likely that you’ll stick to your goal in the first place. Or try making a resolution for a month: They say it only takes 21 days to make a habit, so by mentally committing to just one month, you might trick yourself into making it a permanent change.
In addition to (or instead of) a traditional list, Ania at the New Diplomat’s Wife suggests taking on a word or theme for the year. It’s a nice way to step back and think about the broader goals you have for the year ahead, and then let that guide your choice of more specific resolutions in that theme. Ania’s word is “light”: a lighter schedule, lighter luggage, lighter spirit. What would yours be?
Any other resolutions out there? Share in the comments so we can copy off each other!
Images: 1, 2013 calendar by Anna Newell Jones; 2-6, Margaret Cabaniss