Bargell: Avoiding new year’s resolution anxiety takes resolve
January 6, 2015
New Year's resolutions always have intrigued me. On a radio show recently I heard a popular celebrity explain he does not make resolutions. He thinks they often set us up for failure, something he wanted no part of. Instead, he sets goals that he strives to achieve throughout the year, taking a more reasoned approach to the New Year. While I can't recall who was doing the talking, the conversation prompted an internal banter, leaving me first wondering how it can actually be 2015 (2015, really?), and just what can be done to make this year better.
Who knew there is a government website that identifies popular New Year's resolutions that actually gives links to programs and resources to help achieve them? (The full web address is http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml.) Even though Jan. 1 had passed, my resolution remained unsettled so I decided to take a peek at what's popular in the resolution department these days. The list included losing weight, volunteering to help others, quitting smoking, eating healthier, getting a better job, saving money, getting fit … and on (and on) they went. It was a complicated maze of interrelated goals, some specific and others more general, far more fun to analyze than to actually use in selecting something to work on.
The first few days of January passed, and I was no closer to any identifiable resolution. In fact, thinking about a perfect resolution already had caused some stress that in turn led to eating additional chocolate, doing little for any weight-loss goal and ensuring the whole eating healthier thing went right out the window. So far, 2015 was not proceeding as planned.
Just when it's bad, surely it can't get worse. Unless, of course, you're on the roads in Summit, in January — after a holiday. Just the other day a trip through Breckenridge left me overwhelmed by the traffic situation, doing away completely with any attempt to lower my blood pressure. "Situation," of course, is a euphemism for snafu, an acronym my pop used plenty often. For the record, Merriam Webster defines snafu as "a situation marked by errors or confusion." For the column, I'll leave its etymology out. The situation did leave me confused and frustrated. Sadly, too, I had forgotten that yelling at the car ahead of me had little, or no, impact on its forward progress. My attitude did, however, move the stress level in our car much higher.
Breck's not alone this time of year welcoming record numbers of visitors, and I am genuinely chagrined that anyone who came in proximity of our car that morning did not feel any warm welcoming fuzzies emanating from within.
Not surprisingly, the following day nearly the same situation occurred, this time just outside of Frisco. It was either my dumb luck, or an opportunity (for the next hour and a half or so) to consider just how I could do better. First, I had to admit to the kids how poorly I handled the prior traffic situation. Admitting I'd done a bad job at managing my frustration was easy. It would have been easier still to slip back into the same comfortable, cantankerous attitude. After all, the situation was the same, if not worse, certainly warranting a similar reaction.
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Then again, it was a new year, with no resolution in sight. I was nearly ready to accept the fact that the entire idea of any sort of resolution was merely a setup for failure, and to conveniently let myself off the hook — and to let loose with a perfect traffic tirade.
It nagged at me then that it wasn't just the traffic, or the time of year, that warranted a change.
Instead, it's the reality that every day, every situation, provides an opportunity to do just a tiny bit, well, better. A chance to avoid the perfect excuse, and to steer clear of all those easy justifications for mediocrity. This year instead of setting a specific goal, I'll try to do just a little bit better — when the traffic hits or the checkout line is too long. And yes, for my spouse's benefit as much as Mr. Liddick's, when it comes to turning off lights I most certainly can do better.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. Comments are welcome at Cindy@visanibargell.com.
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