Why I Like New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, with people resolving to better themselves in a thousand different ways, and snarky families and friends laying bets on how long those resolutions will last. (I was, however, incredibly pleased that my gym was closed today — when I swiped my access card there were only four other souls working out — bliss!).

Granted, in the past, I was one of those people who scorned New Year’s Resolutions. I thought it was silly, the number of people who registered for our local Resolution Run, and who would (maybe) make it to March with their renewed focus on health and fitness, only to completely forget about that new dedication when the warm months headed in. For a long period in middle school and high school, I insisted that it was better to focus on Lenten Resolutions than on New Year’s. I would argue that I was far more likely to maintain my Lenten Resolutions when I was beholden not only to myself, but to God as well. (There’s also the little fact that a New Year’s Resolution is meant to last for 364 days: a Lenten one for a measley 40).

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As I grew older, however, I thought that I should give Resolutions a try. I was in my second year of teaching in New York City. When I was younger, resolutions probably wouldn’t have worked — life seemed to go by so quickly. Athletic seasons would segue into marching band, into drama in the winter months, and then back to sports for the spring. Even my work schedule ebbed and flowed. But with a year of teaching under my belt, a stable network of friends and a (barely) working knowledge of my new home, I thought it might be a good idea to focus on someway to better myself through the year.

I don’t remember what my Resolution was that year. I know that I failed.

But I tried again in 2009. I failed again.

In 2010 I began to find some traction again with my New Year’s REsolutions. I think that year I resolved to work on finding out what I needed to do, as teaching was not my calling. That one kind of worked: I applied for and was accepted to law school.

In 2011 I resolved to improve my grades in school. I met that goal, though not so much due to my New Year’s Resolution as to my near-maniacal Type A personality.

In 2012. . .quite frankly, I don’t know what I resolved. Probably my ever-present (and ever-failing) “lose ten pounds” and probably “find a man.” Clearly, it was not a banner year. Law school has a tendency to do that to people, I find — somewhere in the 2L year you lose sight of trying to better yourself, or trying to find yourself, and just desperately try to stay afloat in a rising tide of competition. I loved it, and I thrived, but I was more obsessed in “winning” at law school than in actually improving myself internally.

2013 was when I went back to New Year’s Resolutions, but this time with a new focus. I spent about an hour with friends, joking about resolutions, how hokey they were, how useless, and that somehow segued into discussing things we wanted to change about ourselves. Not things that society states must change — not the size of our waists, or the money in the bank, or the arm candy that we trot out into parties — but actual, small steps to make us happier in who we are. One of us wanted to read more. One of us wanted to gain more confidence. I wanted to get serious about fitness.

I had always been an active person — growing up in a family of three brothers, all of whom are three-sport athletes, will do that to a person. I played soccer and softball when I was younger, and played varsity softball for three and a half years in high school. I wasn’t a swimmer, but I was a lifeguard, which required regular, timed 500 meter swims and an occasional mile swim to retain certification. In college I was a flanker on the club rugby team. My first year teaching in NYC I founded the girls’ softball team, and I coached it the second year I was there, as well. Yet, in the intervening five years, I had lost some of that athleticism, some of that drive and competition.

That, I resolved, was what I wanted to get back.

It wasn’t about being skinner, or dropping a size, or losing weight. It was about changing my body and myself because I wanted to do it. So I resolved, not a generic “get more fit” but instead a very achievable goal of going to the gym, working out, or otherwise exercising at least four times a week. I got a gym body, checked out the school rec center, and did it.

In the end, I did lose weight. I did drop a size in pants. And I have had to deal with the ceaseless comments from friends and family about how I look like I lost weight (they always mean it to be a compliment — I’m never sure that it is).

It wasn’t a Resolution that will go away — I now go to the gym about five times a week. I like dropping my mile time. At the start of 2013, I could only run a ten minute mile. I can now run an eight minute mile. I went from running for a mile and a half maximum, to running. . .honestly, I don’t know how long I could go, because i usually get bored around mile six or seven. I changed something about me, and I was proud of that, and slapping it with the label of New Year’s Resolution made it easier to do.

So this year, again, I took a moment, stepped back, and looked at what I want to change. Once again, everyone might not agree: I’m sure that my mother would prefer that I date more, or that my Dad would rather that I focus on my career. My friends would probably like me to focus on bettering my communication with them, especially as I am planning a cross-country move. Society would probably like me to work on healthier eating habits (I really like bread, ok?) or maybe to volunteer more. Readers of this blog probably think that I should focus on updating more often (or more regularly). And those are things I probably should do — but they aren’t going to be my goals for the year.

Three goals: I want to read 30 books this year (easy for me if I’m in school, or half employed, as you can tell by this blog — likely to be harder what with my new “big girl” law job and ten weeks tucked away for boot camp and training), and I want to write 364 pages. If there’s one thing that I regret, not just about this last year, but about the past few years in general, it’s the way that I’ve let my writing slide.

So there we go. Resolutions. Put out in the public, put out where they can be seen,

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About splashfromabove

I believe firmly that through reflection, we gain in appreciation. My blog is all about taking a step back from what I read, view, or discover, and looking at it slightly askance.
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