Thursday, January 3, 2013


Some people make specific new year’s resolutions, like to lose twenty pounds, stop smoking or learn guitar. Others think resolutions are pointless and don’t even bother making any.

In years past, I’ve tried both tactics, and neither has ever helped me achieve any sort of self-improvement or increased happiness. So this year, I thought I would try another method – picking a word/concept/theme to apply to my life. From what I read, it really works.

So my word for the year is CHOOSE. This might sound ridiculous or simplistic, but hear me out. We make choices all day every day. We choose to do things or not. Big choices, small choices. Some significant, some not. Because we are constantly making these choices, we often don’t realize that we’re making them. We get into habits and routines, and we react seemingly without thinking. But all of those actions (or inactions) are choices.

Remembering that everything is a choice is sort of freeing in a way. I don’t have to be a slave to my routines, habits or reactions. I can let go of all my excuses and just try.  

So what does CHOOSE look like for me in 2013? First, I’m choosing to be more positive. For example, that means choosing not to get all bent when someone cuts in front of me in line at REI (like they did today). It means choosing to give people the benefit of the doubt, choosing not to just react, and choosing not to carry all that negative energy around with me. Sometimes this will be easy. Usually it will be hard. I’ll fail a lot, but that’s okay. Eventually, my habits and reactions will change, and letting go will be easier.

Second, in my never-ending quest to find a healthy equilibrium, I’m choosing to not be a doormat. I made a lot of progress years ago after my divorce, but I’ve recently discovered that I still have a ways to go. I don’t have to stay quiet and let the weight of resentment crush me in order to keep the peace. I also don’t have to unleash total hellfire in order to protect my self-worth. When that knot starts forming in my belly, that’s my cue to take a breath and make a better choice than I would normally make.

Finally, I’m choosing to be healthier. Physical health and fitness have always been important to me. But since Quinn was born, I’ve only been going to the gym sporadically because he hates the child care room there and I have no one to watch him on a regular basis. So today I let go of all my excuses and made the hardest choice of all. I, Melissa, who is so NOT-at-all-a-morning-person, got up at 5AM and went to the gym before Hubs left for work. And it actually felt good. I also found a bunch of home workouts for when Hubs is traveling and Q is sleeping. And I’m going to choose to do them.

There are a million ways I can make better choices. Throughout the year, I’m sure I’ll discover more and discard others. The point is that on December 31, 2013, I’ll be proud of the changes I made and happier with myself.

In the past, I always poo-poo’ed the idea of a resolution “word” because I thought it seemed like a new year’s cop out. How is this even measureable? What does success look like? I mean, losing twenty pounds, quitting smoking and learning to play guitar are tangible, quantifiable goals and remarkable accomplishments. But learning to choose? Really?

But maybe that’s exactly why this actually has a chance at being successful. People tend to give up on resolutions. Once they begin to slip, they feel guilty, beat themselves up, slip some more, feel like total failures, and eventually say “screw it.” With the word method, I can apply it to multiple areas of my life. Some will work, some won’t. But my chances of having at least a little bit of success are pretty good.

With traditional resolutions, you take them pass/fail. You either succeed all the way, or you don’t. With the word method, I feel like there’s a grading scale, and I’d be happy with a “C” my first year. At least that’s better than the usual big fat “F” I get every year after giving up on a resolution. And maybe after a few years, I’ll get that A+. I’ll take slow and steady progress over no progress at all.

And right now, I’m choosing to dump out the rest of this wine glass (yes, really) and go to bed. My alarm is set for the ungodly hour of 5AM. Good thing I didn’t choose to give up Red Bull. That’s just crazy talk.

Linking up with Mama Kat and Sisters from Another Mister today. Go visit them. Now! Go!