So many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their lives at this time of year. According to Nielsen, popular resolutions include health goals, happiness goals, and financial goals. I usually fall into the 16% of Americans who don’t make resolutions. I know that real change needs to come from within, and simply flipping a page on a calendar is not sufficient motivation to sustain real change. At least not for me, and I guarantee I am not unique in this.
No pain, no gain
So what does fuel sustainable change? I would argue that sustainable change comes from reaching a threshold of misery. Pain is the great motivator, and really the only thing that motivates. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, though, so what we might not see as painful, someone else might. Flipping a page on a calendar does not cause pain. Seriously. I can flip my calendar back and forth over and over and feel no pain. The pain comes from having habits that don’t align with who we want to be.
There are lots of ways that I can think of to make my life better. I can certainly stand to lose some weight (I’m 5’7″ and about 180 lbs). My housekeeping skills leave much to be desired. I think everyone and their mother wants to improve their finances. I could get off my duff and work on any of those areas of my life.
The problem is that I haven’t truly hit my pain tolerance in those areas yet. My husband still seems to enjoy my body and I can find clothes fairly easily at most stores. I can usually find what I am looking for in my house with a moderate amount of hunting. We are making ends meet financially and my kids are well fed, clothed, and have a safe place to sleep at night.
My real pain
The one resolution I can think of to make is to prioritize myself more. I spend my energy on taking care of my family and friends, but I don’t take enough time to take care of me. This came to my attention when I thought recently about attending a knitting night at a local yarn store and decided that I can’t go because my family needs me at home. I even felt the tiny swell of tears that threatened. This seemed like overkill to me. Was I seriously going to cry about not going out to knit? I had never gone out to knit with friends before, so it wasn’t like I was nostalgic. I didn’t have friends who were missing me.
My threatening tears were for not prioritizing my own desires. No, I have no need to go knitting, in the sense that the world won’t end if I don’t. Instead, I need to nurture myself. I need to take care of myself just as much as I take care of my husband and children. I do indeed have a need for social activity, and there is no logical reason I can’t go. My family can manage without me long enough for me to refill my proverbial cup.
Crying (or wanting to) can be an indication that we are not paying attention to the things we need to sustain ourselves. Ignoring this can lead to depression, and I suspect that our epidemic of depression is closely tied to our habits of ignoring our own spiritual and/or emotional needs.
So I am making a resolution to fill my own cup more often. But it is triggered by specific events, not the changing of the calendar. I will feel free to indulge in any of the following:
- long hot showers
- TV time
- knitting time, especially pretty things for me
- reading (even books that aren’t about personal development – my mother gave me Inferno for Christmas)
- sewing up new clothes, especially ones for me
- visiting with friends
- anything else that strikes my fancy
All of these things are ways that I can prioritize myself, and feel like I am indeed valuable. I need to be a fountain, filling others’ cups from my overflow.
Do you make resolutions? What kinds have you made in the past, and have you been able to stick to them?