I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. The reason is that I don’t dig the build up to the resolve. If I’m gonna make a life change, I don’t want to attribute some kind of resolute power to a future date, reach that date, and either implement the change, or worse, fail to do so. The majority of New Year’s resolutions are about behavioural changes. Like eat better, work out more, drink less, quit smoking. These are not changes that are best made with a whole lot of ceremony and planning. These are changes best implemented in the moment in which they occur to you.
Want to eat better? Do it now. Get a yogurt and fruit for lunch, it’s delicious, and reward yourself with a cookie. That’s what I do. I’m not skinny, but I eat right. This was a choice made after one time I ate nothing but beef chow fun and dumplings for three months and felt awful. During this time I spent all my money on shoes and handbags and books, which I read while gorging on dumplings.
Want to work out more? Start today. You don’t need a bunch of gear or time or money. I’ll pass along the best exercise advice I ever got, from my friend Ana Valle, who said “do ten minutes a day; make it a habit.” Take ten minutes: start now: create a teensy tiny space for it in your life. I once went for two years on ten minutes a day using 7 minute workouts I found on Netflix. I felt great about it, and I count it as a huge success.
Want to drink less? Start with one less drink. See how it goes. Tomorrow have one less than that. Experiment with sobriety. See what ride your brain takes you on when you don’t dull it down. Brains are amazing, the mind is an exceptional place to hang out. See if you like yourself. You might be awesome, and the liquor could be making you forget. The job of liquor is to make you forget; your job is to remember. Give it a shot.
Want to quit smoking? Yeah I got nothing for this. I’ve been wanting my husband to quit smoking for a million years. He likes it, maybe you do too. The only thing is life is short, and you’re making it shorter. But I’m also reminded of something an old friend in college once said, in the school newspaper, “lung cancer and emphysema are a small price to pay for good living.” I don’t know that I believe that in all cases, but maybe you do.
Own your choices, own your life, don’t keep beating yourself up because you are you and not who you or society or your family think you should be. You are so complex and amazing. We all are. What an incredible gift life is. Don’t use it up lamenting about what could have been or what could be.
Failure in making the behavioural changes that you believe will lead to a more moral, or happier life, does not negate the possibility of success, and does not mean these were unattainable goals. Chill. You can do it if you want to.
And consider this: just because we don’t live up to our expectations doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth having. (That’s my best aphorism that I ever came up with.)
And consider too: if we are failing to meet our behavioural goals, it is perhaps because we do not believe that the destination is worth the trip. If that’s so, think of a new destination, maybe one with beautiful scenic vistas, long and winding roads, and begin your journey with joy.
But whatever you want to try, the new year is now. Or tomorrow. Or whenever you wake up and want it to be new. Calendars are a means to manage your schedule, not your life.
I love you.
The MTA’s Welcome to 2016 party.