Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Do-able Resolutions

This is the big thing I don’t understand: why – when I need to feel better – I don’t do the things that I know will make me feel better. I’ve talked with friends; I know I’m not the only one. Let’s say I feel sluggish and depressed. I know a run will make me feel better, but I don’t do it. Why is that?! What is the sabotage or lack of will that leaves me blobbing around, digging a hole for myself?

Maybe a run outside is not your thing. Maybe a hike or a social outing or a phone call does it for you. But then you don’t do it. Why is that?

Every new year, I start off hoping I’ll be a better person, maybe even Making Plans to intentionally be a better person, and it doesn’t happen. But as I mentioned here, my daughter taught me something about New Year’s resolutions: if I make them cumulative, I see progress, not the times I miss. My resolutions to work out three times a week always left me missing weeks and feeling failure; her resolution to run 500 miles in 2017 takes the miles whenever they come.

So I looked at how I wanted to grow as a person and how could I take baby steps to get there. Maybe it would be like exercising my oomph muscle. (And if I’d missed along the way, I could always race to catch up at the end of the year.)

I want to be more thoughtful, feel more gratitude.
I was so moved by the condolence cards after my mother died that I wrote thank you notes for them. I wanted people to know how much I appreciated their thoughts. My friend Linnea writes appreciation notes often. I save them (even though Linnea says, “You’re supposed to be de-cluttering!”) because they make me feel … appreciated. So: I will write 20 thoughtful notes in 2017.

See? It’s a baby step, but maybe it will feel so good, it will become a habit. If it doesn’t, I will still have written 20 notes.
I want to be more of a hostess, welcoming people into our home.
So: I will hold four dinner parties. Most years, I’ve done this, but this past year, I’m not sure. I’ve still socialized, but I want our home to be a welcoming spot. The point is, it’s not a killer task. It’s do-able.
I want to be more fit.
Here’s the 500 miles of running/skiing. I already do both irregularly, but I let things interfere. Maybe this will help on those self-sabotaging days when I’m digging my personal hole.

Since my exercise tends to be one dimensional, my muscles are pathetic. Tim and Sophie say squats are big, that they also help with getting up (for when we’re older). I hate squats. I can’t imagine anything more boring than doing squats. Tim says I should do three sets of them a day. With weights. Ha! I’ll do 50 sets (three times ten squats) in a whole year. I’ve already done one so far. Baby steps.

I want to eat better.
This one is really an odd one. I already don’t have meat in our house; I only cook vegetarian. So, of course, I thought I was getting my five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I go through four pounds of Costco grapes a week, but I just read that it takes 32 grapes to equal a serving! Yikes! Maybe this means I need to move off beans, carbs, and cheese more. So: I will eat 15 servings of fruits and vegetables each week. Yes, I know that five a day means 75 a week, and that this isn’t a cumulative measure like the others. What should I say? Eat 780 servings in 2017? Too much recordkeeping. Besides, I don’t know how to count the vegetables IN my meals and this is just to get me thinking more intentionally about meal preparation. I’m going out today to buy baby carrots. It only takes nine of them to make a serving.
I want to keep up closeness with my sisters.
So: I’m going to have five Skype or phone conversations with them in 2017. We email regularly, but that’s email.
Missing from these resolutions are the things I already do. I read 75 books last year without noticing, trained for and ran my half-marathon as a matter of course, and wrote this blog because I do (This is post #203!). I don’t need to resolve to do those things. For whatever reason, desire and will are sufficient for them to happen.

Some researchers say willpower is a muscle to be exercised. Others say we can suffer willpower depletion if we have to rely on self-control too much. If you draw on willpower too much, you drain your self-control for the next situation.

Baby steps.

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