Let me be absolutely clear. I do not make New Year's resolutions. Although this time of year causes me to reflect on the roads traveled in the past year and to think about what may be on deck for the next 12 months, I've never thought about, constructed, or written down all the ways I'm going to change my bad habits. Just making the list of my bad habits would be too taxing, and then I'd have the problem of figuring out how to turn those habits around.
In recent years as soon as Katie and Dillon have returned to their home, and Larry has gone back to work, I climb the step-stool of death, teeter over the shaky tree laden with delicate glass ornaments, and carefully remove the decorations from our Christmas tree.
Putting up the tree is a great social event. We all gather around; Katie puts on the Christmas music; stories are shared about each ornament. The dogs bark, and the cat observes. We usually scrape up some kind of cookie and a cup of hot coffee. When Larry wondered why we didn't have as many ornaments as the year before, I confessed that last year I'd broken at least two when I took the tree down. No matter how many times I test it, gravity works every time.
But taking down the tree is a lonely job. No one wants to be reminded that Christmas, once again, is gone. I'm alone with the tree, and the beginning of the new year is only days away. This is the new start we've all wanted. People decide this is the time to do things like those they've put off, such as losing weight (probably the most common resolution), the things they've always wanted to do, but didn't have the courage to do, and the things they feel obligated to do.
There's a reason we put things off. They're uncomfortable, disgusting, or maybe even painful. I suppose it's better if we only attempt these changes once a year and keep at it as long as we can. If you can make it to Valentine's Day, the resolution might become a life-style instead of a rule, but many folks don't make it more than a couple of weeks.
"Bucket list" has become almost trite as people think about those childhood dreams that flutter away as life's responsibilities take over. But there is no time like today to realize a dream. Does it require money? Start saving today. Does someone else object? Address that situation and work out the details. When I start whining, my husband reminds me that if you really want to do something, you'll do it. Why wait for an arbitrary date on the calendar?
Obligations come in many forms, but if you're making a resolution because it's expected of you, take a deeper look at your motivation. Let someone else make that change if it's important to them; I want to reserve my time for what's important to me. It's hard enough to lose weight, but if you're doing it to appease your mother, every bite of tofu or broiled fish will taste even worse.
When I retired, I thought about how I wanted my life to be. I don't need a string of rules or a bucket list. I came up with only two rules. First, I'll only eat when I'm hungry. Two, I'll only watch television when there's a show on that I want to see. This way I'll avoid sitting in front of the tv all day, and I'll keep the grocery bill low. Because I didn't wait until January 1 to implement these changes, I'll have plenty of time to get those Christmas ornaments packed away.