Happy Friday!

Today for my #FoodForThoughtFriday post, I’m going to look at this whole New Years’ Resolutions situation.

It’s a thing that people have been doing for decades, selecting something they can work at to improve their lives in the New Year; and most people, year after year, don’t succeed in their New Years’ Resolutions. So I want to talk about that.

So, let’s start with the concept.

People select a New Years’ Resolution that they think would be a great way to make their life better. Sounds great, right? Yeah, I’m gonna do this thing to have a better life next year! Rock on!

But if you want to improve your life, why wait for the new year? Why not just do it now? If you’re sure that making this change will improve your life in one way or another, wouldn’t it make sense to implement it as soon as possible?

Also, a lot of people pick very vague resolutions, things like “I’m going to eat better,” “I’m going to exercise more,” or “I’m going to get healthier,” which sound great, until you realize it’s really hard to gauge those things. And when we can’t gauge our goals, it’s a lot easier to give up on them.

So, I’m all about new years resolutions, but I recommend deciding on a specific goal ahead of time and working to implement it earlier than just January 1 [note: I have seen people succeed at New Years’ Resolutions that they started on 1 January, such as my friend who decided that in 2016 she wouldn’t dye her hair or have any major haircuts because it was a thing she frequently did on a whim and she wanted to adult more and she’s been very successful with that goal; I also gave up soda and chewing gum as New Years’ Resolutions in high school, and those were successful because they were very specific and both improved my life in ways].

So now let’s look at some good, specific goals we can set for ourselves as resolutions for 2017. I’ll start with my own goals:

My first goal is to take and post a photo to instagram every day. Which sounds like a really silly resolution, but I’ve found that I don’t do a very good job of documenting my life as it happens, and I really want to, so I’m setting a realistic goal to help me do that. By taking and posting a photo every day, I will be able to keep track of my life through the pictures and the captions that I’ll write with them. Sure, not every picture and caption is going to be super substantial, but it’s a start, and it leaves the door open for future goals to improve my life documentation.

My second goal is to walk or run or bike at least a mile every day. This is another thing that I can easily track. I already track my walks and runs with two separate apps (Charity Miles and Runkeeper) and I was operating on a goal of exercising 3x a week this year, but it just didn’t feel like enough. By selecting the goal of doing a mile a day, I am giving myself flexibility in the activity I do, as well as flexibility in the distance I move. This also allows me to have my “rest days” without having any days where I am fully sedentary (which is super unhealthy for you).

My third goal is going to be to read a book every week. Which adds up to 52 books. This year, my reading goal was 16 very specific, very long books, and I’m close to reading those, I just need to finish Alexander Hamilton, which I took a break from by accident and read both The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon to get all of my goal books read. That being said, I’ve read like a dozen or so books that were not part of my list, so I’m going to operate on a less strict list next year. And I’ve done this year’s goal by dividing up the total number of pages in the 16 books I selected last December (10 thousand and something pages) by the number of days in the year (366 days since it’s a leap year) to get about 30 pages a day. Now, I stuck to this 30 pages a day rule for about 1/2 of the year, often reading more than I was supposed to, but also often not getting enough reading on a given day. My hope is that by having a less specific goal, I’ll do better at sticking to it–I’ve got a few shelves full of actual books and a kindle with tons of books on it, and access to my local public library, so I’ve got literally hundreds, maybe thousands of options, and it’s always possible to get more. This goal will just be about buckling down and picking up a new book every week (and I’m going to try to stick with books that are in the 100-300 page range for the most part, because I have to be reasonable with myself and much more than 300 pages is going to be a bit too much for me, 300 pages in a week is like 43 pages a day which is more than my goal for this year was).

My fourth and final goal is going to be to run a race every month. I’ve already gotten started on this one by signing up for the 1st Day 5K in Midlothian (a town near where I live) which is just a 5K on 1 January. Committing to a race each month is easy to keep track of because at races you generally get a bib and you also get like confirmation emails and probably pictures and times get posted. It’s also a good way to make sure I keep up with moving every day because I’m hoping to do races of increasing length throughout the year for the most part–my true goal is to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October, so I’ll work toward that by doing increasing lengths of races (and hopefully training with others who are interested in the same races as me) and see where it goes.

So, those are my “New Years Resolutions,” which I’ve already started working toward because why wait to improve my life until next year when I can do it now, right?

Other things I’m incorporating into my life include the intent to be more eco-friendly and to waste less by using reusable containers wherever possible (including asking places where I get takeout [read: Chipotle] to put the food items in a bowl brought from home, rather than their own disposable ones) and trying to be more financially responsible (so far, not so good, but I’m working on saving more of my paychecks and not buying everything that I see and think “yeah that looks awesome!”) and giving more (which I’ve started by automatically donating $10 from each Target paycheck to United Way and $10 from each Mathnasium paycheck to the Elephant Sanctuary, and plan to continue more by donating a few items each month to charity and things like that).

So anyway, those are the goals I’m working toward, and I encourage everyone to work toward improving their lives in whatever ways they think will be best for them. Don’t worry about what your friends or family are doing, just worry about you. Only you can make goals that you will keep and that will actually help you improve your life.



The Fierce Feminist