Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions, Schmesolutions

Bah, it's that time of year again.

You know what I'm talking about. It's that time of year when everyone picks out a part of their life they'd like to see improved, and vow to "get fit/lose weight/stop drinking/stop smoking/change jobs/work harder/work smarter/work less/yadda, yadda yadda." This comes in the form of a resolution. As in "resolved: I will do this thing that has eluded me lo these many years and FINALLY get my arms around this problematic part of my life."

Look, I'm all for improving one's life. But I'm not in favor of "resolutions." Because "resolutions" are recipes for failure. Have you ever, EVER seen someone hold to a New Year's Resolution? Me neither. That's because they're externally driven by society or by someone else's idea of what people should be doing with themselves. They're also driven only by the calendar. This is why people have a huge blow-out party on New Year's Eve; those with "resolutions" to keep know it's the last hurrah for a while.

Until, of course, the novelty of having a "resolution" to keep wears off and people revert to their old ways of being and doing.

Resolutions also get a big fail because they are too general. "I resolve to lose weight" can be accomplished by a steady, sensible eating plan and exercise over time, and it can also be accomplished by cutting off a limb (or doing a liquid diet, or having bariatric surgery, or some other equally radical quick fix). But one way is emotionally and physically healthy, and the other way lies madness. And after the madness, the weight comes back on. Yes, even for bariatric surgery patients. Because they have not dealt with the reason they are overweight in the first place.

Look, the bottom line is this: people get to the place where they intend to make lasting change happen in their own way and in their own time. And not a moment sooner. And it applies to all those places where it's dark, scary, and just plain hard. Weight loss. Fitness. Work. Relationship. Smoking. Drinking. Drug use. Mental health. Nonspecific, all-purpose brokenness. And also, forgiveness. Acceptance. And love.

So don't come talking to me about resolutions this week. I don't want to hear it. But I'll happily listen in mid-April. Or July. Or even October 21, at 2:33 P.M.

Whenever you're ready. And not a moment before.

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