Happy New Year!

Today begins a brand new year filled with breathtaking possibility, boundless potential goodness, and vast oceans of happiness waiting to be had by all.

Wow, that was brightly optimistic–and somewhat out of character for me.  Usually my first words in the New Year tend to be about how glad I am the last one is over.  This year, however, I’m singing a different tune.  Last year was the first time that I was able to finally rest up and heal from the previous decade of rolling upheavals in my life, and for that I am profoundly grateful.  I don’t normally make New Years’ Resolutions; in the past, I thought they were just a way to make you feel bad about yourself by making an impossible goal and then feeling even worse about yourself for not attaining it.  Who needs that kind of cloud darkening the doorstep of the future?

This year, however, I’m doing things a little differently.  I’ve decided to actually make a resolution and knock myself out trying to keep it.

It wasn’t easy picking just one resolution; I have a lot of things that I would like to change, but then, being a perfectionist, it’s easy to pick out the myriad of things that need improvement.  Indeed, I spent much of yesterday alternating between cleaning my home (for festivities later, as well as to satisfy a personal superstition) and basking in moments of introspection–both deep and superficial.  When I decided on my modest life experiment, I next had to decide what to change.  I wanted it to be big, sweeping; something grand enough to be talked about in a later memoir, in its own chapter with the subtitle: The Little Writer That Could.  I was drawing a blank however.  So, I consulted the all-knowing oracle, otherwise known as Google, but was disappointed by the ordinariness of the lists I found.  As I said, I wanted something big and splashy.  Climb Everest, visit the Great Wall and the Pyramids, something cool along those lines; that big crazy goal that everyone could tell me that I was crazy to pursue, but that I would go on to fabulously accomplish.  Clearly I had been exposed to too many cleaning product fumes and had lost my mind.

After airing out the apartment, I remembered a line from the movie Mulan:

Mulan-single grain of rice

The simple wisdom of it reminded me that even small victories are still victories. I was thinking too big, I was trying to do something in a year that most would take a lifetime to prepare for–obviously unrealistic.  More than that, I was setting myself up for failure.  Sure, I may not save the world or invent a cure for cancer, or even write that life changing literary tome, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t make other, smaller changes for the better.  Who knows, this might actually be the little change that I need that will produce the bigger and better results that I want in the future.

My goal for this year is to lose 52 pounds.  That’s 1 pound per week for 52 weeks.  It’s small, almost ridiculously so, but it is attainable.  If I lose more than that, I have bragging rights, but because it’s such a small amount (but big enough to require more than a nominal effort), that it will be possible to achieve it without pushing myself too hard.  I know that I need to lose much more than that, but even that small amount will still produce definite, beneficial results.  My knees, my back and the rest of me will reap the benefits of even such a modest weight loss.

The other bonus is that victory, although small, it’s still yours to keep.  And honestly, I’ve always responded better to positive reinforcement than the negative alternative.

Your turn: What are your resolutions and how do you plan to keep them?

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