New year, new you? Just say no

(flickr | Andy Graulund)

Ugh. It’s the time of year when we are smothered in “New year, new you!” stories. Articles, listicles, tips-ticles, blogs, vlogs and every other communication known to mankind, all serving one purpose: to let you know that you are not good enough, and you need to try harder.

I just got tricked into reading one myself. It said “10 Small Habits, blah blah blah.” It even had a chart, showing a tiny little mark for “effort” and a great big mark for “positive effect.” OK, I can do that! Oh, wait, no I can’t. This deluded person calls a thrice weekly full body workout a “small habit.” Yeah, tell that to the mom who works five days a week and tries to make something akin to dinner most nights.

Read for one hour a day, he says! Oh yes, that extra hour between getting up, getting dressed, getting in the car, driving to work, working, heading home, stopping at the supermarket, getting whatever it is that’s akin to dinner on the table, washing the dishes, throwing in a load of laundry — what, were you going to watch TV or go online? Are you high? How dare you? Didn’t you look at your phone enough during the 60-second breaks you took all day long?

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Isn’t there vacuuming to do? Are you going to have a cigarette? In this day and age?  Haven’t you seen the commercials? Hell, I saw one the other day, I had to laugh — it showed someone’s children, coworkers, and I don’t know who all else, giving filthy looks to smokers. It was a smoking cessation commercial. Showed the smoker All Alone, outside of The Circle of Life, doing their dirty deed, getting scorned, letting everyone down. ‘Cause you know what makes most people quit their vices? Making them feel like a pile of crap.

We all know smoking is bad. We all want to quit. Some of us will succeed — some will quit using willpower, but plenty will do so because the universe lines up just so and we manage to quit.

What else do we all say we are going to do this brand-spanking-new, still-in-its-shrinkwrap year? Let’s see. Losing weight is a huge one, no pun intended. I have no advice. I don’t like weighing more than I ever have, but that doesn’t make me eat less. If you are lucky and can go to a gym, that can help you eat less. You get this idea in your head, “I don’t want to ruin that trip to the gym, so I won’t have that giant piece of cake.” It can create a really good cycle of positive results making it easy to go for even more positive results. Just don’t try “no pain, no gain.” That rule only applies to the already fit.  

Am I saying don’t even bother trying to do anything different? Not at all. I am saying stop feeling bad about the way you are. Some of us smoke, some of us are fat, some of us waste money, some drink. I used to loathe myself with every cigarette. Every single cigarette I smoked I called myself vile names. But one day I realized nobody who loved me wanted me talking to myself that way. Nobody. And I stopped. I would start to have those “how worthless are you for smoking” thoughts and I’d stop and say, “No. I am addicted to cigarettes and I am having a cigarette. I am still a decent human being.” Turns out, that ugly voice in your head when you are doing something you wish you didn’t do?  It does not help you not do that thing.  In fact, there is plenty of evidence it makes it harder to quit.

Saving money — that’s a biggie. An insight — if you have trouble saving money, chances are you don’t have enough to begin with. It’s very easy to be pious about saving if you have enough to pay your bills, have some fun and sock some away. Lots of people don’t. “Well then,” the articles scold, “don’t buy that coffee!” Now, I am all for not buying the $5 coffee or the coffee three or four times a day. But a nice tasty cup of coffee that you enjoy in the morning? I don’t think any of us are going to change our lives skipping that. Let’s even say it’s $15 a week, tax included, for a large each morning.  Yeah, that’s about $60 a month, $700 for the year. I ain’t saying $700 is nothing. But is it worth missing out on a small pleasure every day for a year?  

Oh, that list I got suckered into reading? It also said to sleep seven or eight hours a night. Now I am wondering if it was a joke article. I bet that’s it. Satire.

Listen, life is too short to spend every day wishing it was different, wishing you were different, wishing everybody was different. Be careful with your sugar if you need to, eat less bacon, do all those things your doctor tells you to do for your health. But if you fail, do not talk to yourself like you are subhuman. 

You’re OK. Are you mostly kind? Do you not tailgate? Do you do what you personally can do to make the world a little bit brighter? Most of us do. OK then. Pat yourself on the back, wad up those resolutions, and chuck ’em right in the basket. Give yourself three points, and Happy 2019!

There are 10 comments

  1. taika & sonic

    Sorry, no. You should accept the things you can’t change but work on the things you can. If you want to save money, make coffee at home in your coffeemaker. If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. If you want to quit smoking, there are many options available. The answer to past failures in reaching your goals is not to give up and say they weren’t worth pursuing.

  2. Angela Nugent

    Some thinking there…. I already quit smoking, gained 80 pounds !!! So, I would say I will join the gym, but I did that and paid for 2 years and went maybe 4 times… Just be the best today and better tomorrow… (maybe) attempt it, and want to say do what makes you happy, Eating sure makes me happy… but. I know time for the BRAKES to be put on… for my health….
    Great article ,,,

  3. Michael

    Some very good advice here, especially about not beating yourself up. Don’t be your own judge, jury, prosecution and executioner cause there’s plenty of people of people out there more than willing to play those roles for you. Be honest with yourself without judgment then try to do the things you need to do without trying to do everything. None of us is Superman or Wonderman. Be kind and human and don’t tailgate like she says and you’re already way ahead of the life game. Happy New Year!

  4. Nubian Cafe

    I agree with the supportive, positive comments here, especially Angela’s. For sure, change what you can. But mostly, it’s all about tackling self-doubt, finding your highest excitement (via doing what feels good) and getting out of your own way so that we can accomplish the real work that brings us to this planet in the first place. Way to go Holly!
    -Nubian Cafe

    1. Holly

      Thank you, Nubian! I can’t wait to hear your show about this – I like the way you look at it – getting out of our own way so we can bring more light to the world!

  5. Love Life

    OK, but if we step aside from an extremist-sarchasm there’s nothing wrong with setting some goals for yourself as a benchmark with ‘great you’ as the starting place. We all have goals we want to achieve, if we don’t we really are lazy, then.

    Don’t like your job? Set out to find one you do. It’s a goal.
    Like your job but don’t make enough money? Set out to work with your boss to get a real raise. It’s a goal.
    Tired of seeing trash tossed along side our beautiful local roads? A lot in town that’s trash-strewn and you want to see it cleaned up? Gather your neighbors and make your little corner of your good world even better. Just a goal.
    People, including the author of the featured opinion piece, fall into “the resolution trap” even when
    “rejecting” that trap…its still the same trap.

    Just set goals that make your life better every day.
    And I will agree with the opinion author – if you aren’t already a ‘gym person’ then you probably won’t become one – unless you really want to.
    If you are smoker and you have that chronic cough, no energy, realize your clothes actually do stink when other people smell you in social situations (and they are judging you for it…even if they claim they are not…reality check) then mabe you do give quitting a try – FOR YOURSELF, not anyone else. It’s just a goal.

    Goals are good.
    Goals are what advance individuals and societies.
    Not having goals is not learning, or growing, or living.
    Not having goals means you will not gain any new skill or perspective or knowledge.
    You gotta have goals, or you’re just waisting your precious OK spot on this planet we call home.

    Grab your goals by the New Year’s Balls and do it for yourself.
    It really is not a bad thing.
    And you don’t have to call it a resolution, or a revolution, or a revelation.
    It’s just a goal.
    You CAN DO IT, no matter who you are.

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