December 30, 2010 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: Take the pressure off resolutions

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It’s almost New Year’s Eve, so let’s get to those resolutions for 2011, shall we?

We shall not. I’m done with all that. This is really a terrible time to set about accomplishing anything personally positive or constructive, if you think about it. What a way to set yourself up for failure.

Lose those 20 pounds? Yeah, right. There’s a New Year’s Eve party to get through and then football games to watch (pass the nachos, please), followed by a week of taking down decorations, munching on candy canes and dealing with those leftover Christmas cookies.

Or how about resolving to exercise more? Please see note above about football game viewing and check outside the window for all that snow and ice. Not exactly movement-stimulating.

I mean, what kind of sane person would attempt a diet or any kind of sensible eating program – or anything rational at all – to coincide with the ending hurrah of a season of excess? You’re doomed before you start.

Okay, maybe the idea is to line up those resolutions now and get started on them a little later, once all the ornaments are packed up and put away. A slippery slope, if you ask me. That sounds a lot like my lifetime history of dieting, a failed pattern that begins with “I’ll start my diet on Monday” (right after I eat my way through the cupboards).

The first of the year, any year, is just a bad time to think about improving yourself. Just not going to happen, really.

I’m kind of a believer in getting started on things whenever that aha moment strikes – whether it’s cleaning out the basement, cooking more at home, eating fewer salty snacks (give me a pretzel over a piece of chocolate any day) or any worthwhile thing. I’m not a patient woman, so waiting or setting a target date makes my temples throb.

Still, I know a lot of us need some line of demarcation or milestone location on the calendar as a starting point for a new task, no matter how worthy the thing might be. I’m okay with that, but let’s take the pressure off Jan. 1. I hunted around online for a date a bit later in January on which to hang the resolutions sign, and I came up with Jan. 13, Make Your Dreams Come True Day.

I have no idea how the day was created, or by whom, and rather doubt that it has any kind of official status. Yet, there it is, and it seems like a good choice for two reasons. First, it’s two weeks past New Year’s Eve – close enough so that our missionary zeal for self-improvement hasn’t faded entirely; early enough in the year that it feels like it still coincides with the start of the year; and yet far enough from the holidays that the last of the fudge is gone and the January doldrums are setting in – a perfect environment in which good-deed actions can blossom, and without the pressure.

Second, it’s got a catchy theme. According to the language accompanying the online site, “Whatever your dreams are, they usually don’t come true without some effort on your part. So, today is the perfect opportunity to do something about it.”

Works for me.

Okay, here’s the plan. Keep rockin’ through the weekend. What’s another couple of thousand calories after all those that have gone down before them? Take down the tree, vacuum up the needles (for those of you who still have real trees), get the kids back in school, get used to writing 2011 on your checks and take a deep breath. Then on Jan. 12, take inventory, and do it leisurely. What do you want to do better or differently in this new year? Make a list, then pare it down to one or two doable things.

Then the next day – Make Your Dreams Come True Day – get going.

Oh, and there’s another benefit, too, especially if you enjoy a bit of one-upmanship. One day later, on Jan. 14, surely you will still be on track and most everyone else you know will have already derailed. So when you’re asked how you’re coming with your New Year’s resolutions, you can smile sweetly and truthfully respond: “Why, just fine, thank you.”

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by e-mail at upwindsailor@comcast.net. Previous columns are available at www.spokesman.com/columnists.

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