Resolutions, big and small

Resolutions, big and small January 14, 2014

My New Year’s resolution has two dimensions. The first, very specific part of my resolution, is to floss daily. The second is to do the right thing all the time.

The second part is ridiculous, unattainable perhaps, but shouldn’t it be all of our resolution, always? The means to get there, for me right now, is flossing. Flossing is attainable. It is unambiguous and clearly defined. You can’t fool yourself about flossing, because either you did it today or you didn’t. It is a pretty low goal, frankly, but I don’t have much margin of time and energy, so a low goal and feeling of success is helping me along.

They say a habit takes 30 days to really cement. I’ve flossed on and off for years, but probably never 30 days in a row. So far this year, I’ve been flossing for 8, and I haven’t missed any, and my gums are feeling wonderful (thanks for asking), so I feel good about sticking with it.

So, what else am I doing better now that I am flossing? I put away the water cups on my bedside table rather than continuing to ignore them, I brushed the baby’s teeth as part of his bedtime routine, I made a to-do list and then gradually worked through the small household chores on the list, I went to daily Mass, I unpacked my suitcase as soon as I got home from skiing and I didn’t drink at a big party.

I failed to do the right thing several times this week as well, for example there is a basket of laundry that I didn’t fold as soon as it came out of the drier, but I think that the list above is pretty impressive, and that over all I am better for trying.

January is tough, especially if you don’t have a well lit office to go to for structure and distraction all day, so for me January takes some trying.

I’m putting one foot in front of the other, redirecting myself often by asking “what am I supposed to be doing right now?”, trying to be gentle on myself about the progress through the to-do list, and celebrating small accomplishments, like flossing.

If I get to 30 days of flossing, I am considering adding another small, super specific habit.

Have you made any resolutions? Are they tangible and measurable or more ephemeral? How do you keep positive when it is 45 degrees and rainy?

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  • Kat0427

    I love your point that making a small resolution can help us all move towards larger goals – I’m going to work on my small resolutions!

  • Jessica

    This might be the post I’ve read on resolutions. These are precisely the needling things that I do rarely or haphazardly, but that I could actually accomplish if I tried (like brushing the babies gums/teeth). Thanks for the boost.

  • Ok, this is out in left field, but my resolution (and it really started last spring but started to slip in December) is to stop talking about my problems. It sounds strange, and perhaps I should post about this in more detail later, but talking about and analyzing my frustrations usually makes things worse. Instead of stewing/talking/analyzing, I am making the choice to table it and exercise (run, drop down and do 20 pushups or sit-ups, etc). Stop, drop, and exercise is a reminder to focus on MY OWN RESPONSE to difficult people and situations. I can’t control others, but I can always control me. When I am disciplined about stop, drop, and exercise, the important relationships automatically rise to the top, there is more harmony all around, and there is peace in my soul. And really, who doesn’t want Michelle Obama’s arms 🙂

  • Catie H

    What a great post. Thank you!! 2014 feels a bit more conquerable.