Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Year's Resolutions Dilemma

New Year's is kind of a weird time for me. I distinctly remember one year it was about 11 pm on January 1st and I was frantic because I hadn't decided yet what my goals for the year were going to be. For some reason I had in my mind that if you don't "do" a goal every single day of the year, then you failed at the goal. That night I ended up doing 50 pushups, 50 situps, reading my scriptures, writing in my regular journal, writing in my gratitude journal, flossing my teeth, reading a Conference talk, and doing anything else I could think of that had the potential to be a year-long goal. If I did them all on January 1st, then I could decide on January 2nd which ones I actually wanted to be my real goals, and I could still be safe with saying "I wrote in my gratitude journal every single day this year" (which of course never happened). Hmph. Obviously I'm not too good at this whole goal thing.

To me, my sister Becca is the person who epitomizes New Year's Resolutions. During high school, every night before she went to bed, Becca faithfully did her pushups. Without fail. I'm serious about this. I remember her doing pushups in a tent while we were camping, in a hotel room, when we slept over at anyone's house, and even when she was sick and had thrown up earlier that day. The craziest thing of all was that each time January 1st came along, she upped the number of pushups she was doing by ten. Yep, that's how you spell crazy. Or at least dedicated in a warped sort of way. She left the rest of us amateurs in the dust when she made the transition from the New YEAR's Resolutions to the bigger and better LIFE Resolutions. She was doing eighty, ninety, one hundred pushups a night in her teens; I envisioned her as a fifty-year old doing pushups for hours every night! Sheesh! Luckily she got married and Jordan has tempered her a bit... Thinking back, I wonder how I ever got past my guilt complex of watching her do pushups every night while I lay, an unexercised blob, in my bed... I guess I justified that just watching her made me feel as tired as if I were doing the pushups myself and practically counted anyway!

Obviously, physical goals haven't proved that long-lasting or life-altering for me. Although I do remember when I used to lift those black ten-pound weights every night, and I went through a phase when I did those pincher/grip things for basketball. Maybe that's when I started being proud of my handshake... And I still do my calf exercises every time I brush my teeth, much to the amusement of my roommates and family. So I guess some things, remnants of past resolutions regarding physical activity, have rubbed off on me. But for the most part, I'm better at eating goals. (Please await my next upcoming blog on the subject.)

Lest you think I am a perfect heathen, I have "succeeded," if you will, with at least some of my goals. Becca and my "no-chocolate" goal while Krista was on her mission was a smashing success. I still haven't ever bought anything out of a vending machine, and I've written in my journal every single day (except one) since I moved out. But some goals will be on my List of Goals until the day I die...and I probably won't ever achieve any of them. These vague "unachievables" include: get into bed earlier, read my scriptures in the morning, be more punctual, keep my room cleaner, do my jobs before Mom asks me to, exercise more, don't pick at my split ends, and a multitude of other bad habits. Ah me.

But there is hope: A few months ago I came across this quote by Joseph B. Wirthlin when we were studying the Conference talks for Institute.

"I urge you to examine your life. Determine where you are and what you need to do to be the kind of person you want to be. Create inspiring, noble, and righteous goals that fire your imagination and create excitement in your heart. And then keep your eye on them. Work consistently towards achieving them... In other words, never take your eye off the ball."
--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, April '07 General Conference

Hope? I'd call it more of a guilt trip....guilt trip...guilt trip... I don't know if I would exactly call flossing an "inspiring, noble, and righteous goal that fires my imagination..." Oh dear me. But obviously I should floss, and if I don't have a goal to floss every day, I could very well end up flossing a mere time or two every month! Then I'd have cavities and it would cost Dad money and I'd feel guilty about wasting his money when I could have prevented it and no one wins. What to do.

Then there are the other troubles I have with making goals--in a rare moment of ambition, I make a huge long list of things I want to do differently and change and include in my life and take out of my life and whatnot and the list is so long that I end up getting pretty much none of them accomplished. Sheesh. And, if I ever manage to select just a few goals to focus on, I follow them religiously, sometimes to a fault. Not like I would know from experience that reading scriptures at three in the morning when you can barely focus your eyes to read the words on the page isn't too helpful to overall spirituality... It's the principle of the thing, right? Right. ...or is it? Other times I end up rationalizing: I should just go to sleep and read in the morning when I can actually get something out of it. This seems (and is) very rational. But, nonetheless, I still have to read at least a verse or two just so I can say I've read the scriptures every day of my life since I was thirteen. Inside, I know it doesn't really matter...but it does...and thus I still stay up night after night, reading and re-reading the same verses over and over again and not getting anything out of it.

Well, there's my lengthily discussed dilemma. I'm open for suggestions and comments and ideas and anything else that might help me in my predicament and need for a balance between reality and aspiration.


Ryan said...

My Dad had a New Year's Resolution last year to read 12 books. He ended up reading 16, but I think 12 is a pretty good goal. Since I'll be leaving on my mission before too long, my library is about to become very, very limited (although still existent, thank you Suz). But, if I were to make that same lofty goal, at least it would be a comfort to know that I would only have 11 books left to read... since I just read Suzy's blog entry. :)
Anyhow, I don't know what Suz is complaining about, she trumps me in just about any goal I could ever accomplish. I wish beyond wish that I could say I've read my scriptures every night since I was thirteen. I guess that's a good place to start for me. But, knowing Suz, I'm sure she'll come up with an excellent goal to accomplish this year, if for know other reason than to chastise me for not keeping up with my goals. My my, I really didn't know what I was getting into with her, but she sure makes me a better person, and I'm thankful for that. Good luck Suz, I'm sure you'll do something great in 2008!

Ryan said...

Well, now that I've reread MY comment, I guess I have ten more to go

janel said...

Since you (and Becca) are the most goal-fulfilling people I know, I would suggest ignoring flossing (because you know you'll do it anyway b/c of guilt), and focus on the two things that cause you the most pain when you don't do them. For me, one of these is DEFINITELY bedtime. I feel like I wreck my chances of having a productive, happy day if I don't get in bed on time (having kids seals this deal).
So, I think split ends can wait (especially if you get a haircut, hint hint) for another year's goal, and I think you should pick bedtime and one more thing (not doing jobs before mom asks is out because no mortal can keep up with mom). And, please keep writing. Because this blog entry was so great. I laughed and moaned (at thinking of Becca's pushups) and laughed and was inspired the whole time. You're a great writer. Good thing Ryan's a great reader.

Chels said...

SUZANNE!!! I feel somewhat stalker-ish because I found you on here, but I just wanted to say that reading your blog made me miss you and reminded me that you are my hero and I LOVE YoU!!!! I hope your break has been fantastic, and good luck with those resolutions :)

Camille said...

You wanna come skydiving with me?

Beetle Bailey said...

One thing I've learned this past year as I tried to keep up with a full-time job and my family and school and everything is that weekly goals make the most sense. Doing 50 push-ups everynight for the year is huge, but if you just say, everynight this week I will do 50, you can accomplish that goal, give yourself a pat on the back, and then do it again the next week. Small goals for small minds, I suppose. Skydiving will be pretty sweet, though.

Rebecca said...

my goal was just to do calf raises while i brushed my teeth, but i couldn't manage--so i had to find some other goal to do... :)
suzy, you're so hilarious, and i'm sad that i don't see your bedtime routine every night anymore.