The Dilemma of New Year’s Resolutions

Ok, so this is a day late.  OH, WELL.  Ha!  🙂

Every year I wonder about New Year’s Resolutions.  I wonder if I should make them, if I should tell people I’ve made them, if I should just chuck them and set goals, WHAT SHOULD I DO?  The pressure of a resolution.  Holy cow. 

Usually I just don’t make them.  I’ve learned that there is nothing that will make me feel like a failure faster than breaking resolutions – especially ones I’ve announced to other people.  But this year (or rather late last year, waaaaaaay back in December ’08, LOL), it just seemed like the time had come for some changes.  Please note: not “The Time Had Come.”  But rather, *whispers* “the time had come.” 

My life so far has played out in a series of 10-year cycles.  For the first 10 years I felt like the fat nerd.  Turned out  I wasn’t fat (though I was DEFINITELY a nerd).  For the next 10 years, I felt like a fat dancer.  And by normal standards I wasn’t fat, but by dancing standards I was.  For the last 10 years, I’ve felt fat.  Just fat, no qualifiers.  And honestly, I have been.  I don’t think it’s due to my set point (though I’m sure that mine is higher than most people’s, but that’s because I carry a LOT of muscle, and when I reach that set point, that will be that – no starving); I think it’s due to complusive eating and/or Binge Eating and/or bingeing and starving.  And this last year was sort of the Year of the Eating Disorder.  It was the year where I had to confront that demon over and over, until I couldn’t really tell myself it was No Big Deal anymore.  I had to recognize that yes, it WAS a Big Deal, and that as long as I pretended it wasn’t, I wasn’t going to get better.  So I dealt with a lot of things (most of them right here on this blog), and exorcised a lot of demons and learned about myself in ways that I had been hiding from and ignoring.  But it was all good, because along the way I discovered COMPASSION for myself.  I discovered that I didn’t HAVE to be perfect.  That falling off the horse didn’t mean I couldn’t ride; it just meant that I lost my balance for a minute.  (And that no one was looking at me falling; I’m NOT THAT IMPORTANT, LOL.  Ok, I’m still working on that one, but at least I realize it intellectually!!  Ha!)

And last month, somewhere in the beginning of the month, a little voice in the back of my head said, “Now, it’s time.”  It wasn’t the big, booming voice that announced “IT’S TIME TO BE DIFFERENT!  BETTER!  THINNER! PRETTIER! AND ALL BY TOMORROW!!!  (OR NEXT WEEK AT THE LATEST!)”  No, this was a still, small voice that said very little.  Just, “Now.  It’s time.”  So I got up and I went to the gym.  And I dragged out my food journal (with much anxiety and trepidation, because it had always been something that sent me spiraling into the depths of starving and bingeing like crazy).  And I signed up for some Tae Kwon Do lessons (because yay! for learning new skills!).  And I learned some things about myself.  I learned that if I listened to the still, small voice instead of the big booming one, there was no insanity in the food journal.  I learned that if I listed to the still, small voice, I NOTICED how good I felt when I got LOTS of exercise and LOTS of sleep.  I learned mostly, to listen to THAT voice and not the loud one.

And then there was Christmas.  I’m still recovering from Christmas, to be honest.  I got myself on the junk food cycle, and this week I had PMS like you wouldn’t BELIEVE and trying to eat healthy left me literally crying in the kitchen one night because I WANTED SOME CHIPS, DAMMIT, AND THERE WERE NONE IN THE HOUSE, AND I DIDN’T WANT TO GO TO THE GROCERY STORE (I was SUPER-rational that night).  So I decided forget it, if it was THAT important to some part of me to eat junk food, I would eat junk food this week, too.  And now here I am at the end of the week, and I can hear that voice again: “Now.  It’s time.”  And somehow, that voice is so sure of itself, that it inspires total faith.  I know that voice: it’s the part of me that KNOWS when the time has arrived (and when it hasn’t).  It’s the part that until this year, was (almost) always drowned out by the bigger, booming (lying) voice.  And I know that tomorrow I’ll get up, and go to the grocery store and buy vegetables and fruits and chicken and fish.  And I won’t eat pizza or garlic bread as a general rule, and that IT WILL BE OK, and I WILL FEEL BETTER.  Amazing.

So, I DID make some goals for this year, though I still have to refine them.  That’s a job for this weekend.  But these goals are really just out-loud statements from that little voice – statements that it made almost a month ago. 

I won’t be sharing them, though.  I have discovered, through long years of trial-and-error (and error and error) that although most people swear by sharing their goals and “being accountable,” that when I announce a goal, I become so overwhelmed by the thought of not finishing it and what a failure I’ll be seen as if I DON’T finish it, that I paralyze myself.  I can’t move forward toward the goal, because no step I take is big enough, no change I make is important enough.  So I sit, unmoving, incapacitated, and as the deadline for my goal approaches, and I haven’t made any changes, I interpret it as yet another failure, and that stamps itself on my heart: WORTHLESS FAILURE.  AGAIN. 

But I notice, as I look back, that there were goals I DID accomplish.  Invariably though, they were goals I did NOT share.  They were goals that existed only in my head, and therefore if I took a tiny step instead of a giant leap, *I* might have been disappointed, but I did not have to confess a “failure” to anyone else.  And not having to confess my “sins” meant that I was free to try again, without that stamp on my heart.  Those goals, I almost always acheived. 

For me, a goal of any kind is sort of like a baby chick inside an egg.  As long as it’s protected inside my head and heart, it grows and is nourished.  But if I expose that chick to the elements before it’s matured, it stops growing, and dies.  (Leading of course, to that inevitable stamp.)

So this year, I have some goals.  Not because it’s January 1, but because it was time.  And I won’t be sharing those goals until . . . well, I don’t know when.  Maybe when I’ve made some progress.  Or when I’ve reached them.  Or (most likely) when I’ve made some progress and then hit a snag and need some help to move forward.  I might share them then.

But right now?  They’re protected in my head and heart, growing and maturing.  It’s time to start working on them.  But it’s not time to share them.  They aren’t ready to hatch yet.


6 responses to “The Dilemma of New Year’s Resolutions

  1. “Now. It’s time.” And somehow, that voice is so sure of itself, that it inspires total faith. I know that voice: it’s the part of me that KNOWS when the time has arrived (and when it hasn’t). It’s the part that until this year, was (almost) always drowned out by the bigger, booming (lying) voice.”

    Dear Marste,

    Thank you for this post. I agree wholeheartedly with your section I quoted above.

    I believe the big, booming voice is the harsh and demanding voice of control and rules that ignores our hearts and souls.

    The smaller voice, the little voice that reverberates truth, love and deep knowing of ourselves, is the voice of our essential healthy nature. It’s the voice of our deep and honest life force.

    This little voice, in my opinion, is always present. It’s little because we block it with the nonessential boomings of our lives.

    It’s little because it’s muffled by the irrelevant noise we make when we concentrate on the family or social or cultural or professional issues we feel pressured to honor while we dishonor what’s important to our hearts and souls.

    I like your metaphor of keeping the new life in the egg private and protected until it’s ready to hatch. We need to listen to that little voice, honor and protect it, and let it emerge as the governing force in our lives.

    Then we’ll see the potato chips as clutter to block that voice. We’ll push junk eating aside easily because we will know how to nourish ourselves well — by feeding our hearts and souls.

    Thank you, Marste. Yours is an honest voice speaking from the eating disorder recovery path.

    warm regards and Happy New Year,

    Joanna Poppink, MFT

  2. I totally identify with this, I never want to tell anyone about my plans in case I “Screw it up” or “give up”. But the thing I am learning about resolutions is that they shouldn’t be definite goals. Saying “I want to do X by Y” is asking for trouble. If you keep them broader, then they can evolve as you find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

    It’s not the end goal that is as important as how you get there, and what you learn from it. I know that sort of sounds wishy washy and people have said it to me before, and I have said “Meh, yeah I know what you mean, but y’know it’s like a goal, isn’t it!”. But there is far more satisfaction in finding something doesn’t work, and being strong enough to change direction to suit yourself.

    Lola x

  3. That’s just awesome. 🙂

    That’s all.

  4. Keep them safe! We’ll be here when you want to parade your successes, we’ll shake our pom-poms for you 🙂

    And HEY if you want a junk-food Christmas, all I consumed was ice-cream and wine. A LOT of wine……(why is it everybody else manages to be EXTRA healthy on a liquids-only diet, and I go completely the other way??)

    TA x

  5. Hi Joanna – welcome! Thanks for the comment.

    Lola, I totally understand what you mean. I’m guessing that mentality – of being better able to accomplish something if I DON’T share it – probably has the same roots as disordered eating: sort of that same driving perfectionism, you know? I’m working on it, but sometimes it sneaks up on me anyway. LOL.

    Thanks, Sassy! 🙂

    TA, pom-poms? REALLY?! That would be awesome, LOL. And I know what you mean about that liquid diet; I think the majority of my calories this Christmas were of the alcoholic variety . . . *wince*

  6. (people are extra healthy on the liquid diet?! :))

    and Marste? you are too frickin funny (your boooooobcomment)

    and Marste? what’s shakin with your book?

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