I’ve already broken all my resolutions. This is a good thing.
Although I have been telling friends I made *no* resolutions, the truth is I did — I made a mental list of small things and behaviours I wanted to change in the new year. It’s January 25 and I’ve broken each of them.
“Dry” January — like many people, I considered a month of pure sobriety, knowing full well it wouldn’t last. I don’t actually consume much alcohol in my day to day life, but when I do, I enjoy it. Typically I have a glass of wine over dinner with friends, or a cocktail on a night out. My behaviour wasn’t the cause of the resolution — it was the realization that default social activities were all closely paired with alcohol consumption. Seeing friends had become a cycle of “having a drink” or “grabbing a beer” that meant I was consuming even when I didn’t want to; even when I didn’t enjoy it. So, I said no to dry January and said yes to uncoupling my social life and alcohol consumption. Enter the rise of walks, homemade brunches, afternoons in the park, and lingering dinners. The funny thing is how simple it was. I’ve spent more time cooking at home with friends in the last 25 days than I did in the previous six months.
Writing 500 words a day. This is a classic one for me. While I don’t always enjoy the process of writing, I always enjoy the results. But, in about a week I realized I wasn’t writing nearly as much as I said I would. Then I realized I most certainly had reviewed over 1000 words of writing each day. I enjoy reading other people’s writing, and will send my friends full red-lined copies of their draft blog posts, grad-school admissions essays, and other long form written work with copious comments. Once I realized that this was accomplishing the same goal as writing the words myself — making me more conscious of the structure of written prose — it became so much more fun. Realizing that “writing” was a resolution I could apply in different ways to the service of different people (not exclusively myself), I enjoyed it more. And I’ve accomplished this goal every day.
Cheese. Yes, cheese. I knew dry January was not going to be my thing, but I did toy with the idea of banning cheese. I spent most of November and December eating from too many cheese plates and holiday parties, and spent 19 days in Europe over the holidays, where I indulged in lots and lots of cheese. I joked that December should be renamed “cheese.”
I thought eliminating cheese for a month would be an easy and healthy goal. I don’t buy much cheese to eat at home, and whenever it’s available at restaurants or parties there are always other options. But then there was a block of blue cheese at a friend’s house one afternoon in early January, and of course I had to have some. The resolution I accomplished has been to enjoy cheese (and other foods, too) for its quality and the memories associated with it. I tried dozens of fresh, organic cheeses during the week I spent alone with my brother in France, our first time traveling together as adults. We went to the local Bio-Coop (just like it sounds, an organic coop) and bought cheese after cheese and had picnics of jam and fresh baguette daily. I was right — American cheese is just as gross as I remembered. So I just don’t eat the ones I don’t like. I only eat the good stuff and when I do, I enjoy it without guilt. Mission accomplished.
I’m still reorganizing my “resolutions” around what is useful, what is helpful. I’m not interested in the guilt economy of forming and breaking resolutions, but the realization I can change the goals to suit my needs has left me feeling a lot more in control of the year ahead.