New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays. I love everything about it. Getting dressed up, spending time with good friends, and watching the ball drop.
I love closing the door on a year. If it has been a trying year, I feel like it gives me the opportunity to change my karma right in that moment. If it’s been a great year, I’m even more excited to see what’s next. It’s just the perfect ending to my favorite holiday season.
Until I wake up the next morning with a champagne hangover, bloated from indulging in all those snacks and exhausted from staying up too late. Which reminds me of why I hate New Year’s resolutions.
For years I promised myself that this would be the time that I lost five or 10 pounds or exercised five times a week or got up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to write or work out or just drink a cup of coffee in peace (or maybe even give up coffee?) But I never do these things. At least not like I write down on a piece of paper as the “experts” tell you to do.
Sure, I’ve lost five and even ten pounds. Several times. When I did, I felt a little better about myself, but it didn’t change my life. I exercise fairly regularly, but sometimes I go weeks without working out. And my life doesn’t fall apart if I don’t make it to the gym. I’ve even tried to go to bed earlier and wake up with the birds, but somehow my night owl self gets the best of me and I end up writing at 11:30 at night and hitting snooze until 7:30 a.m. most days. Somehow, I’ve accomplished a lot this year despite my bad habits.
Don’t get me wrong. I think New Year’s Resolutions can serve a purpose, but I think starting a habit can happen at any time. Starting a fitness regimen or nutrition plan doesn’t have to start on January 1 or deciding to change some bad sleep patterns doesn’t need a holiday for a jump-start.
I believe most of us use New Year’s resolutions in the wrong way. We choose things that we don’t like about ourselves and resolve to change them.
What usually ends up happening though is we bite off more than we can chew, spend time searching for the perfect solution or try to change something that we’re not quite ready to change.
The result is failure — which isn’t exactly the way we want to kick off a brand new year.
Last year, I decided to change my resolutions. I didn’t want to change me. I wanted to improve upon my life. I wanted goals I knew I could obtain and goals that I could look forward to achieving.
I thought about what made me happy — I mean really happy — and decided to do more of that. And I realized it wasn’t about changing me. It was about planning for what I wanted to do more of in the upcoming year.
It was so simple.
- Focus on experiences with my family.
- Spend time with friends — no matter where they live.
- Write more.
That was it. And I was laser focused achieving my resolutions.
This year, I took my kids on an epic two-week road trip over the summer, saw all the major sites in Chicago and have hit every park in a 40 mile radius. The hubby and I spent more quality time together in 2014 than ever before, including eating at so many restaurants that we should have our own show on the Food Network. I asked for a bicycle for Mother’s Day so I could bike to school with my girls and take spur of the moment rides when I felt like we needed to spend some together time. And that doesn’t even count the hours I spend transporting them each week in the swagger wagon.
And I am a better wife and mom because of it.
I also found the time to see nearly all of my best friends at least once this year, and some a few times. Despite work schedules and kids’ activities and family obligations — we made it happen. We celebrated milestone birthdays and beach vacations and “just because I missed you” impulse trips. And every mile on the highway, every minute of sleep lost, every hour spent stressing about the family surviving without me, was worth it to make memories with my beautiful friends and extended family who happen to live all over the country.
And I’m a better friend because of it.
In 2014, I wrote. I wrote about things that touched my heart and some things that scared the crap out of me. I wrote about things that made me laugh, and I wrote about things that made me cry. I wrote when I didn’t want to, and I wrote even when I was scared no one would read it or like what I had to say.
And I am just a better me for writing it.
Although I didn’t finally lose those five pounds or become a Cross Fit champion or become an early riser — I am grateful, I am happy, I am whole.
Because I despise New Year’s resolutions. But I love planning for a new year, and love living out those plans even more. By focusing on what made me the most happy, I achieved more this year than I ever could have imagined.
This year, I’m going to do what I always do on December 31st. I’ll probably be a little tipsy, kiss a tall, dark, handsome guy at midnight, and hug some of my dearest friends tight.
And instead of waking up with dread about hitting the gym or eating more salads or quitting my coffee (so not going to happen), I’m going to look at my calendar to see how I can make my New Year’s plans happen.
Because life is for living. And my New Year’s resolution is to live it.
Happy New Year’s! What are your plans for 2015?