I have been dragging my feet on what my New Year’s Resolutions will be, which is unusual for me. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want my goals for the next year to be by early December. Every time I have thought about it, though, it has stressed me out. I’m already so busy; when do I have time to do anything new? It was a rough semester, moving to the daytime desk position and teaching four classes instead of my usual three. My workload this spring isn’t going to be any lighter. All previous attempts to compose a list of resolutions so far have resulted in stress baking (you’re welcome, family) and the first three seasons of Smallville (you’re welcome, eyes). I want to continue to learn and progress in some way, though, so I sat down this afternoon to barrel through and come up with something to guide me.
And the word that kept coming to mind was “Stop.”
This year, I resolve to…
1. Stop being such a jerk.
The world was so mean last year. I know it was an election year, but I think it went beyond that. We as a culture seem to have all regressed to junior high, when we didn’t understand the difference between discussing an issue and attacking/belittling the person who disagrees with us on that issue. I would like to say that I rose above that trend, but I can think of a few instances where I gave into the temptation to be a little nastier than I needed to be to get my point across. My old debate coach would have been proud of my performance, but I am not. I don’t want to be a person who goes into discussions assuming that others only disagree with me because they are less informed. And even if, during the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that that is the case, I still don’t have to be an ass about it. At the end of this year, I want to look back and be more satisfied with how I deal with conflicts and disagreements than I am now.
2. Stop participating in Facebook drama.
I took a mini-vacation from Facebook drama in November when I was participating in NaNoWriMo so that I could focus more on writing. I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. In fact, even with the 50,000-word deadline staring me down, November was the calmest, most peaceful month of my year. So in December, I decided to intervene in heated discussions only when a voice of reason was needed. Heh. Yeah, that’s so not how Facebook drama works. In person, it works beautifully, but on Facebook, it’s like pouring gasoline on a lit candle in a hayloft. People seem to use Facebook to say things that they’re thinking but would never say out loud in person, because they’re too shy or reasonable. To them, Facebook is their safe place to say whatever they want (I strongly disagree, but that’s a whole other post). So here they are, in the middle of their glorious rant, and then some fool (i.e., me) steps in and tries to get them to dial it back. They, however, do not want to dial it back, and suggesting that they do so pretty much equals volunteering to be their new target. So I’m going to revert back to my Facebook behavior of yore, when it was a happy place where I connected with old friends whom I haven’t seen in a decade, liked all their pictures of their kids/food/cats, and when I had time, tended to my farm.
3. Stop the compulsion to fill up every moment.
I noticed something disturbing in these last two weeks that I was on holiday from work. I’ve lost the ability to sit still. I might have taken a break from my jobs, but I haven’t slowed down. I’ve been multitasking constantly, even if it was as simple as watching a TV show while I ate a meal. I can’t remember a single time in the last two weeks when I just relaxed, and I bet that has a lot to do with why I’m so stressed out. I value efficiency, but this is ridiculous. I want to get back to the place where I can be calm regardless of how busy my schedule is, and the way to do that is by taking time each day to slow down for a few minutes. I don’t even remember what that looks like, so more on this later as I rediscover it.
4. Stop saying, “Yes,” just because I can’t think of a good reason to say, “No.”
Another thing that has contributed to my stressful busyness is that I’ve started agreeing to things only to find myself, on the day of the event, saying, “Why on earth did I say that I’d do this? I don’t want to do this!” And when I reflect back, the only reason that I can come up with is that I didn’t have a good reason not to, and I didn’t want to leave them hanging with a maybe. As committed as I am to avoiding maybe (i.e., the most useless, impolite RSVP ever), I would like to work on adopting the viewpoint that “I don’t want to” is a good enough reason to decline.
5. Stop making excuses.
The main reason that I have had difficulty coming up with resolutions this year is that I’m tired of making goals that I don’t meet. Every year, I set reading, writing, fitness, wellness, organization, and financial goals, and every year, I fall short of them. As much joy as I get from the process of pursuing these goals, a part of me can’t help but feel unsuccessful, and that part of me feels the need to justify why they weren’t fully met. But I’m not going to do that anymore, because the truth is that I make time to do the things that are really important to me. My reading/writing nook in my apartment is always tidy, even when the rest of the place looks like a tornado hit it, and keeping it that way is not even something that I set out to do. It stays that way, because I want it to stay that way, so I make it happen. I keep up with inputting grades, because I don’t like having the constant nag of knowing there’s still work to be done hovering over my weekend, so I make sure I get it done before the weekend begins. And yes, I would like to be in better shape and take better care of myself and keep the rest of the house tidy and clean and handle my finances a little better, and it’s not a question of time, because somewhere, someone busier than I am is accomplishing those things. I’m not going to set specific expectations, though, until I better understand what my priorities are, because clearly, they don’t involve any of those things, or I would be doing them already.
So I’m going to stop making excuses to myself and to others about why I can’t seem to achieve these things that I consistently identify as goals, trusting that when they become important enough to me, I will do what I need to do in order to be successful at them. Meanwhile, I’m going to start a year of observation. I’m going to keep a calendar of how I spend my free time, and I expect that it will reveal what my priorities have become, since they’re obviously not the things that I want them to be. I suspect that you can look forward to some extreme navel-gazing posts concerning the issue throughout the year.