Coffee with Mimi: New Year’s resolutions vs. lists 

Published 4:39 pm Friday, December 27, 2019


Coffee with Mimi

As each calendar year comes to a close, it is customary to celebrate its finish and recognize a new beginning. The extent to which some folks celebrate is intriguing. Perhaps society has given in to the commercial urging to party about anything. Maybe it is the urge to get out and about on a dreary winter night. 

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For whatever reason, New Year’s Eve and Day are not a big deal to me. They are just the next days on the calendar. I’m not a Scrooge about it. Maybe it is because I want to live like “Groundhog Day.” Not all the details of that story plot are totally relevant in my case, but I do appreciate the concept of starting over, and over, and over; each day another beginning.

A psychologist might say it is a fear of failure, but I do not generally make New Year’s resolutions. Exercising more, losing a few pounds, organizing the basement and garage are certainly worthy and definitely significant tasks. But really, do I want to hang the success of my year on such? I am aware that improving health-related habits is imperative every day of my life.  I do work at them now, so why pick one day to declare a new resolve?

As my birthday falls hard on the heels of New Year’s Day, the actuarial tables and the internet usually remind me of certain behaviors on an annual basis anyway. The daily mail, and email, cheerfully inform me of what should be my up-to-the-minute concerns as the clock ticks along. The pertinent information is generally accompanied by a list of suggested changes; “6 quick ways to boost your daily workout,”  “5 easy recipe hacks to lower cholesterol,” and so forth. Why waste any time coming up with resolutions when someone else is happy to supply an ongoing list just for me?

One year I did break my resolve to not make resolutions and challenged myself to not begin any new projects until all old ones were completed. That was a foolish and unwise, and ultimately unsuccessful behavior to target for improvement. I spent 35 years in education; 35 years of encouraging students to learn something new everyday. In reality, I love learning something new and I have plenty of teachers to guide me. Once a new skill is experienced, it must be practiced.  No time like the present, which leaves more than a few loose ends on the cutting table on a regular basis.

But, in the general spirit of the New Year, I have a few unoriginal thoughts to guide my next 365 individual days after ringing it in. (Or, actually 366 — it’s a leap  year …) 

First, it is important and encouraging to make a list of what needs to be done each day.  I resolve to appreciate the list. A list is important to keep an eye on what truly must be accomplished based on deadlines and project demands. The list is a positive reinforcement of the progress made each day toward goals. 

Absolutely, positively, I will check each item off as it is completed; it is my reward. If an item is unchecked, I will ask myself what did I accomplish toward the completion of the task. The list reminds me where my energy should be spent. Some items on the list are personal and some are work related. Life can be complicated, so prepare for it.

 I make lists. My brand new daily planner for the new year has a space for a legal pad. I have already moved the old year legal pad forward with all the unfinished tasks listed. I have a running list of what is facing me with the progress toward completion already noted. The list is never finished. That is oddly comforting. I will never be bored or undirected.

Part two of making a list; some items will hang on the list for a long, long time. It is quite possible some of those jobs never should have been added to the list in the first place. Perhaps there was no reasonable possibility of completion due to any number of factors including poor planning or timing. Maybe I’m not entirely in control of external factors critical to the success of the task. Make a decision. Be honest. Leave the task unchecked. Learn a lesson. Move on.  

Lastly, make another list; this is a wish list, one of inspiration — the ”Some day I am going to…” list.  This is the list of possibility and opportunity. If I were to give in to the New Years’ resolution thing, this would be it. How many times have I said I am going to break out of my comfort zone and do something really challenging? I have a list of those thoughts. Some of the dreams require actual physical materials or work spaces. Some of them require nothing more than allowing myself the mental and emotional room to take the risk. That’s all on me.

I suppose I have made resolutions after all.  I will move along, doing what I do and challenging myself to new possibilities.  Happy New Year!