A few years back, I tried to see how long into the new year people would tolerate me saying, “Happy New Year!” when I greeted them. It wasn’t always with bright, shiny enthusiasm, but I said it nonetheless. I got to the end of January with people still smiling. These “people” were anyone from cashiers at the grocery store to work colleagues to neighbors in my building. By February, I got some hesitant smiles or forced, uncomfortable chuckles. And mid-way through that month, the shady looks took hold, followed by silence and then looks that seemed to say, “Woman, are you insane?” I put an end to my greetings before February ended and never resurrected the little experiment again. And so, I say it just once in writing here, “Happy New Year!”
I hope 2017 is off to a smashing start. I am someone that makes resolutions. Like most things in my life, I try to keep it simple. I like to make resolutions that are achievable. Here are some goals from past years:
- eat more salad during the week
- have more drink choices in my apartment for visitors beyond water, milk and iced coffee
- make ice for this wide variety of drinks, soon to be available
- call my cousins more than once a year
- learn how to use excel spreadsheets
- brush my dog’s hair more than twice a year (typically right before we go the vet)
See? Practical. Small. Not too difficult for me. I actually achieved all of the above, at some point. I considered clicking on a tab and typing a few numbers on a line, to be added up: “learning” how to use excel. And for a few years, I consistently had ice available, but not this year. I clearly created a wide berth of acceptance. Because if you can’t stretch the truth for yourself, who else can you stretch the truth for?
In 2016, these were my goals I hoped to accomplish:
- learn new dance moves
- run in a half marathon
- force myself to do things I don’t want to do
- make time each morning for something spiritual, creative or quiet
- stop piling things up on the kitchen table
- listen more/be more thoughtful before I speak
Okay the last one, to “listen more”, has been with me for the last decade or so. It is ongoing. The one I wanted to write further about here is number 3: forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do. I had the idea and my next thought was, “How bad could this be?”
Well, only a few weeks into January last year and I quickly realized there were VERY FEW THINGS I actually wanted to do in life. The list of things I wanted to do on a daily basis included: reading books, hanging out with my friends/family/dog, eating peanut butter + chocolate (preferably together), drinking warm beverages, writing, baking/cooking and moving in some way (walking, running, dancing). That was it, more or less. Did I want to do more?
So many other events, activities and chores I learned I didn’t want to do. This list included but was not limited to: grocery shopping, carrying groceries home, putting groceries away, buying and then mailing gifts, writing checks to pay the dog walker or building managers, sending work emails, making phone calls, taking out the garbage, taking out the recycling, thinking about composting, looking at online dating profiles, changing my sheets, taking off my old nail polish, cleaning the bathroom mirror, cleaning the floors, any cleaning at all, flossing my teeth, uploading any and all photos to my computer, returning library books and sometimes even, turning off my bedroom light at night.
It was a real lesson in how many times a day I internally groaned at what needed to be done. Frequently, I realized that I didn’t want to be bothered by the most ridiculous things. For example, I do not like the cold. At all. But last winter, every time it was cold and I had to go out, instead of avoiding it, I forced myself out and had an internal dialogue like this, “This is refreshing! Brisk! Some people actually like the wind burning their cheeks. I am going to be one of those people!” While I didn’t grow to love the cold (or even like it) I did learn that it’s not that bad. I just excessively layered up and convinced myself it wasn’t as awful as it was in my mind.
Overall, I procrastinated less. I literally FORCED myself to put my laundry away immediately or open + read my mail (rather than let it rest for days in my mailbox downstairs). Before, if I brought one dress or pair of pants to the cleaners (and I didn’t really want to), I’d think “Haven’t I done enough for one day?” After a year of forcing myself to do things, most of my chores got easier. I was forcing myself less and simply getting things done.
I also began to see the bonuses of getting things done: I had gifts ready before parties, I baked cookies weeks before I needed them, I wasn’t thinking about emails I had yet to reply to and I found papers I needed that would normally have been lost to a kitchen table avalanche.
This is why I’m going to continue my goal of doing things I don’t want to do in 2017. I feel better. I’m slightly more efficient and I learned that the bigger things were less dreadful because I had practice with so many little things I didn’t want to do. Big things to me: going to the dentist, officially becoming a business, having uncomfortable conversations, etc. It’s only 2 days in and I’ve already watered my plants, went food shopping and even set foot in the gym. This year, I also decided to try and read all the Pulitzer Prize winning fiction books. Along with a few other personal goals, I am gearing up to do whatever lies ahead, whether I want to or not.
Here’s to a healthy, productive year full of joy, ease and contentment. Thanks as always for reading. Till the next post then, take care.
New Years Photo: by Vanessa D.
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