It’s the New Year…whaddaya gonna do now?!

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By Lisa Sugarman

Well, another year down. Bing. Bang. Done. And just like that, here we are, sitting on the tippy top of the 2014 calendar, another 12 months stretched out in front of us with infinite possibilities.

It’s intimidating and exhilarating all at the same time. So much to look forward to yet so much pressure to keep doing better than we’ve done before. And we all feel it, regardless of the size and magnitude of our goals. Pressure is pressure. It’s all relative.

It’s great that we’re all super motivated in our own way to change all the things we hate about ourselves, but deep down we’re all petrified to commit to making changes and failing. Kind of a conundrum, wouldn’t you say? Almost makes you want to stay in the same spot and not move. But we have to move forward, Newton says so.

We all want so desperately to get everything right and the New Year is the world’s greatest starting block to do it. Everyone’s on the same page, at the same time, wanting the same basic things. And most people are willing, at least for the short term, to do whatever it takes to make it happen. And the problem is, too many of us set the bar too high from day one to clear it.

Look, I love the New Year just as much as the next girl. I love the smell and the feel of it when you peel it open for the first time—it’s super exciting, things starting fresh all over again. There’s nothing that feels better or empowers us more than a clean slate to make everything right that we may have screwed up during the last year. So just by nature it gets us feeling all tingly and optimistic. And that’s good. That’s exactly what it’s designed to do.

Everyone’s super ambitious, committed to all kinds of crazy resolutions and desperate to get everything right. And there’s all sorts of positive energy oozing out of everybody. I mean, climb into almost anyone’s head—man or woman—and just about everyone has the same thoughts floating around.

This year’s gonna be different. This year I’m gonna get it all right… Gonna be the best mom ever! Gonna be the best dad ever! Gonna run every day. Gonna go above and beyond at my job. Gonna cook every night—nothing but the best for my little family. Going to do laundry often enough that I don’t have to go out and buy new underwear when I run out. Gonna look my kids in the eye when I talk to them, or at least out of one eye if there’s something especially good on TV. Going to the gym 5 days a week if it kills me. (Well, ok, at least two days.) Gonna lose that evil little muffin top no matter what it takes. Never gonna yell again—nothing but a soft, two-inch voice from here out. Calm and centered, that’s me. I’m gonna love my husband like he’s never been loved. I’m not gonna play more than three consecutive hours a day of Call of Duty when my wife and kids are home. I’m not gonna pretend it was the dog that farted anymore—I’m gonna own it. Gonna make it to every track meet this season, home and away, within a 60-mile radius. Gonna spend time cuddling with the dog. Gonna cuddle more with the kids. Oh hell, gonna cuddle more with everyone. Gonna eat 1,800 calories a day, max—it’s celery all day every day. Gonna drive slower. Gonna text less and call more. Gonna be on time for everything. Gonna stop procrastinating about procrastinating. Gonna stop sending texts and Facebook messages to people I’m in the same room with. I’m gonna be polite and courteous and giving and kind and patient and tolerant and relaxed and confident and attentive and available, and compassionate, and content, and decisive, and dependable, and enthusiastic, and flexible, and grateful and virtuous. In short, I’m gonna be perfect.

That all sound about right? Did I cover everybody?

I know what you’re thinking…Sugarman’s lost her mind. And maybe so, but it’s the New Year and most everyone is usually compelled to raise the bar as high as it can go. We’re supposed to aim high, right? I mean wasn’t I the one who put it out there to everyone last year that we needed to GO BIG OR GO HOME? Yup, that was me. And I still agree with that idea under certain circumstances. I think there’s no reason not to go for broke when you’re deciding to make changes. But I also think that when the New Year rolls around people can get caught in the little booby trap of resolving to be too perfect. And that’s when we get derailed. That’s when the pressure to do everything right or tap out ruins everything.

Then I remember that we’re not supposed to be perfect. We can have big goals and big ideas and pile on all the resolutions, but we can’t go into the New Year terrified of not succeeding or we’ve missed the point entirely. Because, in case you haven’t heard, being perfect is exhausting and, oh yeah, impossible.

I say we switch it up this year. Let’s do something no one’s ever done before. Let’s throw out expectations and unrealistic goals and just relax. Let’s reduce the pressure we’re under and instead of aiming so high that we have no chance of being successful, let’s just agree that we’ll make our goals reasonable and we won’t beat ourselves senseless if we fall off track. Because isn’t the most important thing just moving forward at whatever speed marks progress. I mean Newton said objects in motion will stay in motion, right? So as long as we keep moving forward, we’re gaining ground toward where we ultimately want to be, right?

So I’ve decided to just do my version of my best, keeping firmly in mind that I’m going to screw up way more than I succeed. And that’s ok. Because the way I figure it, if I can manage to zip up my fly every day before I leave the house, I’m way ahead of the game. And anything else I accomplish is cake. Instinct tells me this is the way to go. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, Happy New Year.

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