Let’s Make Non-Resolutions

img_2282I hate to be one of the five gazillion bloggers blogging about new year’s resolutions this week, but … well … I am.


Do you guys make resolutions?


According to some statistics I came across this week, about 40% of people make resolutions, which actually seems a bit low to me. I would think it would be higher. It seems like just about everyone I know is talking about their resolutions for the new year (usually involving some sort of food deprivation), and it’s not that I don’t want to join in, or that I don’t admire the fact that they’re doing this, it’s just that I tend to avoid resolutions. To me, resolutions end up feeling like a big ol’ long list of things I haven’t managed to accomplish. And who wants to go into the new year reading that?


Instead, I actually make a list of things I accomplished in the previous year. Now, lest you think I’m just making that up for the sake of this blog, I even ran upstairs and got my lists from previous years to prove that I really do (and took a photo for you, right up there in the corner!). My lists say things like “Got new garage door,” “Reorganized makeup drawer,” “Got photos organized.” One of my lists even says “Great trips for the kids: Catalina, Yosemite, Palm Springs!” because I was really proud of the fact that I got to take my kids to all those places one year.


Sometimes I leaf through my list of accomplishments – not even just at the new year, but in the middle of August – and, oddly enough, they still make me feel really good. Because sometimes you feel like there’s just SO much to do, and you’re not getting anything done – you’ve got to repaint the porch rail, get your kids’ vaccines updated, replenish those fire-alarm batteries, lose weight, learn yoga, donate those books to the library, replace the dining chairs, organize your kids’ closets, download all those photos from the Halloween party, replace the screens, fix the coat hook in the boys’ room, put in new carpeting upstairs, etc., etc. The list never ends. And creating a new list for 2009 – as if you didn’t know all the things you didn’t finish – always feels a little demoralizing.


But if you make a list of things you managed to accomplish the previous year (Did you get your child to his first dentist appointment? Manage to have a family portrait done? Get your car checked so it can go another 30,000 miles? Hang the portraits you’ve been wanting to hang? Tuck away a little savings?), suddenly you feel rather invigorated. And you go into the new year thinking, hmmm, what cool things will I do this year that will make next year’s list? If you pull your lists out in July or October – or whenever you’re feeling like you never get anything accomplished – you’ll see that you actually do. You suddenly remember how great you felt when you got those stupid baseboards painted two years ago. (And you get a little perspective on how unimportant all this stuff is, in the long run, really.)


So get your pens ready, friends. Scratch off those 2009 pie-in-the-sky plans and make a list instead of all the great things you did manage to accomplish in 2008. I promise you’ll feel better!



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7 thoughts on “Let’s Make Non-Resolutions

  1. Ok I see your point, though I feel like I would want to know what I need to do in the coming year. I am with you on not creating a “resolution(s)” as I don’t like to do that either. I would rather see a need for something and just decide right then and there to do it. Though, I can see how some folks might like to wait for a set time for a new beginning, and what better time than New Year’s day or your birthday? I guess i makes it easier to track or something like that. Personally I see each new day as a chance for a new beginning.
    So that’s my take anyway.
    By the way I love your blog Laurie!

  2. Thanks! And yes, I agree with you that it IS important to have some goals. In fact, my writer friend Patti and I are always making “goals” together, mostly relating to writing fiction. But, like you, I simply don’t call them “resolutions” (which implies a promise) and — more importantly — I don’t do them as part of the new year!!! I feel like the new year is a great time to simply celebrate past accomplishments. Then, as January and Feb roll around, and you’re making your standard list of goals about getting the bathroom cabinet fixed or launching a project at work, you have some energy and enthusiasm about your ability to have success. Happy 2009!

  3. Okay … I have a theory about Resolutions.
    It’s a rather daunting task the way I perform this yearly ritual, but for me it works. First I make a “Would” list. If the list is 100 items or only 5 items … these are the goals I would really like to accomplish. From the “Would” list I make a “Could” list. This is when reality sets in and my practical side surfaces. What could I realistically accomplish with the amount of daily time I have to dedicate. Nothing turns me off more than setting some unrealistic goal and not having a plan of action on accomplishing it. I think that’s what prevents so many of us from keeping resolutions. What could I commit to at this time in my life? Then from there I make the “Should” list. That’s the list I ultimately choose from. In 2000 when I lost more than 130 pounds, I knew that’s what I “should” do. That would benefit my life greatly in so many ways. In 2003 when I declined working 100+ hours a week, that was a resolution on my “should” list. When I resolved to create a family newsletter in 2001, I did so to provide a link for our family and I felt I could commit to continuing that project (and happily I have). I make goals that are obtainable and I commit to them. BTW: I’ve only been using this method for about 10 years … so prior to that I talked about all sorts of resolutions and forgot about them about 7 days into the new year.
    Happy New Year!

  4. I’m very anti resolution…kind of like I’m not crazy about Valentine’s Day. I think everyday should be Valentine’s Day…but that’s another story.

    Somewhere along the line I gave up on making resolutions that never went anywhere. I kind of like the idea of listing the year’s accomplishments although this year that would primarily consist of listing work, work, and oh yeah, more work.

    This year, however, I did sort of make a resolution to be nicer…and by that I mean, not stroking out at the office. (It’s a high stress job; towards the end of last year, I was ready to throttle anyone who crossed me.) I mentioned this nice idea to my boss who told me his resolution was to be mean (he’s usually the voice of reason) so we continue to be the Department’s Yin and Yang.

    So any bets on how long I can keep up the “nice” resolution? Happy New Year!

  5. I personally don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. I can never seem to keep them and that depresses me. So I just don’t make them anymore. And I am happier for it. I do like the idea of highlighting accomplishments though. And the pat on the back is really great, but my arm gets sore after a while….;>)
    I do have generalized “to do” lists for the year…In May, I come to the conclusion that the pile of “lists” is getting too high, so I trash them and sit on the deck and soak up the sunshine….which is what should have been on the list in the first place…..”pat! pat!”

  6. If resolutions are made to be broken, and,”good intentions are the road to hell,” but,a “promise is a promise,” then lets start the New Year with promises to ourselves. OK?

    I’ve always loved the last stanza of Robert Frost oft-quoted poem.

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    but I have other promises to keep,
    and miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    A lovely reminder that none of us has forever to accomplish what we would.


  7. Pingback: So Do You Make Resolutions?

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