I know, I'm weird.
Here's a run-down of how the end of the year and the beginning of the next always shape up for me. Christmas comes and goes. I go shopping to buy a bunch of stuff that I don't need for 70-90% off. I feel good about the bargains, and then feel a primal urge to clean and organize so that I can find places for the new Christmas gifts and after-Christmas impulse buys. I resolve to be more organized in the new year.
I read all the things that have titles like Top 10 Funny Cat Jokes of 2015 solely because they include the words "top" and "of 2015." I listen to any kind of countdown that I hear on the radio (although, I listen to the radio a lot less these days, and sadly my Hipster Cocktail Party station on Pandora doesn't indulge my love of countdowns). And back when I used to keep a diary, every year I wrote an entry with all of my personal highlights (and lowlights) by month. I fondly think back to that simpler time every late-December, lament that I don't keep a journal anymore, and resolve to to start doing that again.
On New Year's Eve, I over-indulge. New Year's Eve is like the cherry on top of a month of everything too much. With each bite and sip I tell myself, "Enjoy - in the new year, you're not eating stuff with gluten in it! No more chocolate for you! No more fried foods!" (Of course that usually doesn't last much longer than the hangover.) Thank goodness there's Lent so that I can pick up the pieces (and I don't mean Reese's).
Then on the morning of New Year's Day, I drive everyone in my household crazy by narrating the entire day. When I get dressed, I say: "That's the first time I've gotten dressed in the new year!" When I watch the Rose Bowl Parade on TV, I exclaim: "The first parade of the new year!" When Mike rolls his eyes and says "Enough!" I respond with, "First time I've annoyed Mike in the new year!" (Seriously, try it. It's a lot of fun.)
Why do I love the new year so much? I think there's something to be said about wanting to be better. First, resolutions usually require a person consciously to desire to step out of the status quo and onto a different path. Resolutions admonish inertia and reward personal growth. Second, in order to recognize how we can improve, we must be self-reflexive. Making new year's resolutions is an opportunity to reassess our goals and priorities, and to figure out whether we've gotten off track. Third, the belief (even if naive) that we can improve ourselves means that we acknowledge our personal power. We are the ones who can make a difference in our lives - we're able to do that. Even if we're only able to make positive changes for a month, or week, or even less, at least we did a little bit of good for ourselves. And if we did it once, surely we can do it again.
Of course, some people think that folks who make resolutions are just setting themselves up for failure. Others eschew resolutions because they think that if something is a good idea on January 1st then it's also a good idea on any random Tuesday. They don't understand why people wait until the new year to try out personal improvement strategies.
I say that the key to a good new year's resolution is to reframe what success looks like. Resolutions are often big things - lose weight, stop smoking, stop eating sugar, get a new job. It's really hard to achieve big things, but it's not all that hard to do little things that are steps in the right direction. If you want to lose 100 pounds, it's going to be a long time before you get there. But you might lose 2 pounds by next week, and that is a reason to celebrate. You probably won't have a new job by the end of January, but the fact that you applied for 5 positions is a reason to pat yourself on the back. Celebrate the increments, and you're much more likely to get to the finish line.
And yeah - good ideas for ourselves are good ideas, no matter the date on the calendar. The thing about new year's resolutions, though, is that there's awesome momentum. There's not a sense that we're trying to do this all alone. Me and about 65 million friends are all trying to lose weight. It's just a fact that all of my coworkers aren't likely to start brown-bagging their lunches on the third Thursday in March. But they might all start doing it during the first week of January, and that might make it easier for me to do it too.
My personal resolutions aren't all that exciting. I want to lose weight and be healthier (and I plan to do it by trying to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory). I want to be more organized (and use my Sortly app to inventory the contents of my household). I want to spend more time on creative endeavors. I want to spend more quality time with my family. I want to live in a cleaner house. I want to garden more. There's no measure of "success" for any of my resolutions. I just don't want binge watching shows on Netflix to be my focus in 2016. As time goes on, maybe I'll find myself eating more vitamins and gazing upon blooming flower vistas from inside my not-so-filthy house. Those simple things would be a win, y'all.
Wherever you fall on the resolution spectrum, from the resolvers to the naysayers, I hope that you have a wonderful New Year full of personal growth and a whole heckuva lotta good things. And have no fear if you're back to your degenerate ways by MLK Day. Good things love second chances.