Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reflections on Resolutions

Almost every year since becoming an adult (I wrote it this way instead of saying, err, for the last few decades) I have written down goals and resolutions for the coming year even though I often despaired that they would happen. One year, in particular (I can always tell when I have been watching Jane Austen movies because the word particular becomes more present in my communication). Anyway, one year, I became despondent about my goals/resolutions because they just weren't happening! Here they were, year after year, down on paper but nothing had moved me towards them. So, that year, I refused to make them. But, the next year, none of them happened either, so being a persistent creature, I wrote them down again. Yes, most of them were the same. Boy, am I a sucker. But ever optimistic and without any clue as to how I was going to do it, I wrote down what I wanted on a 3 by 5 index card and stuck the card under my mattress cover.

One of the things that I wrote down on that card was the salary that I wanted to be making. It only happened to be more than twice what I was currently making. Seriously, I sat on the bed staring at this number WITHOUT A CLUE as to how it was going to happen. No breakdown of the mini steps I needed to do to get me to the magical number, where it would be, etc. None of the typical uber-goal setting techniques I had learned and used from the myriad of books and seminars I had read and attended. Nada. Blankness. Empty brain. Just a 3 by 5 index card. I had a nice job and I loved the folks I was working with and the salary I was making was better than a lot of other people's (and did I mention that we were in another one of those recession things?). Oh, I had gone on a few job interviews before my current job but they hadn't panned out.

But within a few months, I received a phone call, out of the blue, from a man who had been on one of the interviews panels. He invited me to apply for a job opening at his company. And, so I did. And guess what? I got the job. And guess again? It paid what I had written down on that card. (In fact my then boss remarked somewhat sheepishly when he saw the salary I was going to make, "Uh, that's more than what I make.")

So this year, feeling once again that my resolutions just weren't happening, I looked at some of my old years resolutions to see what I wanted to write down. Surprisingly, I was, well, surprised at the number of things that had happened. Oh, maybe they had taken more than one year and some had taken hard work but I was amazed at what had gotten done over time. Bought a house, remodelled a house, painted living room, got a new roof, moved woodpile, installed sprinklers, new flooring (okay, I think I lived on plywood sub-flooring for a couple of years before it got done) as well as equally taxing projects like, get organized. I can't think of all of the things that happened because now that I am organized, I'm not quite sure where those lists are. Hmm, maybe in the current projects box in the closet?

Yes, sadly, not all of the things I wrote down on that card have happened. My thoughts on some of those? Some things don't happen because we move on from who we were when we wrote them. Maybe they don't happen because I really don't want them to happen. Shockingly, could this be true? Let's take this small test. Stop now and write down the first 10 things that you want to happen as they come to your mind. If you don't have 10, that's okay. Just write down what you do have. If you have more than 10 just keep writing. A word on this test later.

Some things I have not given up on even though I write them down year after year. I still want to weigh 130 lbs and wear a size 7. I have quite the detailed plan on this with charts (!) and even though I have exercised regularly for a couple of years, I haven't made much progress. I attended nutrition classes for awhile. I upped my walking time. Then I joined a gym and I actually workout 3 times a week. Then, I decided to get help and have a personal trainer. BTW, getting help is not cheating. Sometimes we need a little help. Or a lot help.

Some of my resolutions are less specific like, live more simply, be more gracious (this includes the writing of letters sent by the U.S. postal service on pretty stationery), stop rushing, meet more interesting and genuine people. Some goals are slightly onerous. Sometimes I have to rewrite these goals and give them a more enticing spin. Example? Change "clean out the garage" to "park car in garage" (only possible, if I clean it out) or "convert garage into work studio" so I can take up rug hooking. I got a little more enthusiastic about this before the holidays took over my weekends and spare time, so it's still not done.

Oh, and I still have a few resolutions/goals which are for the future and which I wrote down because even though I don't know how on God's green earth it's going to happen, I still want them to happen. And now for your own list. Look at the order at which you wrote them down. Unconsiously, you wrote the most important first. Sometimes we're smart that way. If what you think is the most important got written down, third or fourth, maybe it's not happening because it really isn't that important to you. Think on that.


mental mosaic said...

I have been reluctant to make any this year... yet! I want to have as much clarity about my goals this year, as possible.

I love the idea of putting your resolutions under your mattress. And what a great tale about the job that you obtained!

I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing your resolutions!

homebody at heart said...

Hi Tui,

I don't think I ever had done that before, but that tells you how much of a dream vs reality I thought I had of it becoming true. I certainly wouldn't use that method on my weight loss goal or the desire to be fluent in Italian! Good luck on your resolutions!