Let’s Get Messy: Not Your Mama’s Resolutions

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December 31, 2019

I’ve never been a big fan of the resolutions that usually go hand in hand with the New Year. Resolutions set you up for failure. Once you break your “resolve,” you’ve failed at the endeavor. I prefer to set yearly goals, which I realize sounds like the same thing. But, to me, when you think of a goal, it has more of an on-going context. You probably won’t reach it immediately. In fact, it’ll probably take some time and work. In my case, probably an entire lifetime!

As an example, if you resolve to eat healthier, do well for a week, then lose all control at the bagel bar set up at work, that resolution is toast. But if you set a goal to eat healthier in the New Year, start off with a rainbow of veggies, then crash into that same bagel bar, you’ve still made progress towards your goal of health. It’s all about the forward progress. This is why my family and I set goals every New Year.

A while ago, a friend posted an excerpt, from author Brianna Wiest, on social media about self-care that really resonated with me. It spoke to how I’ve started to view my life. I find myself recalling her ideas as I contemplate my goals for this New Year. She stated that self-care is about creating a life you actually want to participate in and enjoy. “[Self-care] is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do.”

Goals are pretty. They make pretty pictures for the future. They serve as inspiration for the next 12 months. But they can also gloss over the harder, more difficult parts of life that really need to be addressed. With Ms. Wiest’s words as inspiration, I asked myself a new question. What is the ugliest thing I need to do? Which leads to the practical question, how am I going to do that?


This means digging into those problems I ignore or reflecting on my own bad habits that can drag down everything in my day.

One simple example that comes to mind immediately is my evening routine. I regularly promise myself that I’m going to do so much after the kids go to bed. Somehow, I fool myself into thinking I will become significantly more productive after 9 PM. (I can feel your collective eyes roll even as I write this!) Their doors close for the night and suddenly my body carries me to the couch to sit and decompress. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when I stay in that spot for hours, doing stupid things that aren’t important, in order to procrastinate from doing the thousands of chores I’d swore I do but that now completely overwhelm me. At the end of the night, I go to bed way too late, having accomplished way too little, and carrying way too much guilt about the whole thing. You can probably relate to this. This feels like a pretty normal mom issue.

So, how do I dig into the ugly of this dysfunctional cycle? When their doors close at night, I need to decide what minimum absolutely has to be done then do ONLY that thing or two. It will get ugly I’m sure. I want to sit and be done. I also want to pretend that I will suddenly get a miraculous second wind to finish everything I’d hope. But, I know I won’t. Instead, I need to take fifteen or thirty minutes, finish the minimum necessary, followed by time to actually decompress then go to bed, without guilt.

Kick resolutions out the door. It’s time to get messy. Join me in asking yourself . . . what is the ugliest thing that you can do for yourself this year? Set a goal based on that answer. And don’t forget to ask the prettier follow-up. How will your life look different when you’ve actually completed it? Chances are you will love the picture.

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