That Ubiquitous New Year’s Post…

I wasn’t going to do a New Year’s post, because I am, of course, ornery about New Year’s.

(In case you haven’t noticed, I’m ornery over just about everything)

So why am I ornery about New Year’s? It’s because I hate the idea of resolutions. And why do I hate resolutions? It’s because I hate the idea of living for watershed moments. I hate the idea of saying, “On January first, THAT’S when I’ll do whatever super important thing I really need/want to do. Until then I’ll do fuck all . . . but on January first, it’s ON!” 

Because it rarely, if ever, is on. What you’ve put off for a month can inevitably be put off for another month. Or you wait for the magic of the New Year’s resolution to kick in, and then you realize that it’s January fifth and nothing has happened because what you want to do requires work, not magic.

In other words, you can intend all you want, but things don’t get done until you do them.

Plus, New Year’s is inevitably a pain in my ass. Whenever I make plans, they fall to pieces. For example, this year, about a month ago, I bought tickets  to see this super awesome concert in Chicago with my good friend. Now she has phneumonia in both lungs (get well soon, Loren!) and I am going to go watch Harry Potter with Mrs. Bunch, my former English teacher.

I felt pretty shit about this, to be honest. Not about spending time with Mr. and Mrs. Bunch, whom I adore, but about not getting my vacation. For going to Chicago for the concert was going to be My Vacation: I was going to use going into the city and staying with Loren as my time to see friends, shop, get some stuff done I’ve been wanting to do (tattoo!!!!) and basically just be a jet-setting city girl instead of a hermit writer.

So I was really disappointed about not getting my vacay, and I felt pretty mopey. Until I made some calls, got on Expedia, and bought tickets to San Francisco, to see my friend with whom I spent last New Years.

(Which, btw, was a PERFECT New Years as my friend, Jana Henning, organized it, and she is the most brilliant, beautiful, funniest, smartest, awesome, and most likely to make me pee in my pants person EVER.) (And yes, the peeing has happened. She made me pee all over the Greek islands once. Our friendship is like a comedic bio hazard.)

So now, instead of spending a lame assed New Years in Elburn, I am spending a productive New Years getting ready for my BAD ASS trip to San Fran.

And the reason I have money to do stuff like this, although the ticket was actually outrageously cheap–nothing like the fear of terrorism to bring down ticket prices, is because I don’t make resolutions. I don’t say, “Next week, I’m gonna . . .” Instead, I’ve learned to say, “Right now, I’m gonna. . .”

Meanwhile, acting upon this attitude was, indeed, a skill I had to learn. Doing my Ph.D., I was always going to start writing, I just had to research one more thing . . . I just had to get inspired . . . I just had to . . .

Finally, my supervisor(s) were like, “You just gotta stop making excuses and start writing.” Eventually, I learned to do just that. But it was difficult. Excuses are great! Not starting is even better! Cause if I didn’t start, I couldn’t fail.

Eventually, I realized that what was wrong with me wasn’t my project, or my paragraph, or my idea . . . what was wrong with me was my definition of “failure.” I had set up in my mind this dichotomous world where everything was either “perfect” or a “failure.” But that’s not how life really works. If you want to lose twenty pounds, but you only lose five, that’s not a failure. If you attempt an idea that doesn’t come to fruition, that’s not a failure. If you write a rough draft that’s rough, that is not a failure.

These are all just steps required on the way to success, and they are victories in themselves.

So try a different type of resolution, this year: not to make resolutions. Instead, just try to get things done. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by final, ultimate, goals. See life as what it is: a process where sometimes we perform major coups, but most of the time we take faltering steps forward (and occasionally backward) that eventually culminate in real, substantial success.

Oh, and pre-order Tracking the Tempest. It’s up on Amazon, and should be available everywhere else, soon. 😉 Yay!!!!!

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

14 thoughts on “That Ubiquitous New Year’s Post…”

  1. @NicolePeeler Don't blame you a bit! It is always a struggle for me how much I should or should not moderate.

  2. @NicolePeeler I need to be careful cause I do not censor my blogger persona… but have a "real" business as well. Would be bad to mix the 2

  3. I could not agree more with you. Setting blotted resolutions is asking for disappointment. I do not set resolutions on Jan 1, but try and accomplish my goals little by little throughout the year. Recently my husband has been spouting off about his never ending TO-DO list. I said, "lets make a happy list.". He looked at me like I was nuts. I started mentioning all the items I want to do that are fun (tattoo is on there) and he totally tuned me out. What type of society are we in that the idea of having fun goals is ludicrous. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and have a GREAT new year!

  4. I think you're so right, Robin, about how dangerous and self-abnegating it is to see "goals" as "work." I mean, don't get me wrong, when I make a list of things like, "bank, grocery store, mail letters, pay bills," that's a to-do list.

    But if you see a goal as just some awful thing you have to endure to get a result, you're going to be screwed. Like if I tell myself I'm going to diet and excercise to lose weight, I'm screwed. I refuse to "diet" like some Stepford wife, and it doesn't mean anything to "exercise." What I am going to do, because I do need to lose quite a few pounds, is to focus on eating more of the things I should be eating (but also enjoy), and I'm going to sit down with my trainer (Dawn Trundle at Fitness World: marvelous woman, marvelous trainer, and an increasingly good friend) and we're gonna talk about how I can be more active this semester in a way that's both enjoyable and productive. In other words, Oprah is (of course) right: it's about setting up our lives so we can enjoy doing the things we need to be doing anyway. And that sounds like what you mean by a "fun list," which I think is a brilliant idea for big, long term goals!

  5. Great post. In the New Year, I resolve to not make resolutions, but to just do things. How's that? :o)

  6. I don't think I've ever really done one New Years resolution. This year I really wanted to get going on exercising, and I started the beginning of Dec. I was proud of myself for not putting it off. Plus, intead of just hating being at the gym. I finally got help from a real trainer…what an idea…who helped me make up a work-out I would enjoy. So far so good… It was a me resolution…no time requirement needed.

    Have fun in San Fran!!!

  7. Barbara: That sounds like a great plan, lady! Happy New Year!

    Heather C: Trainers are the best! I love mine! And that's awesome you started immediately. We can increase our exercising this year together! 🙂

  8. I too, refuse to diet…in fact I've written a book by that name (to be released soon) I dieted my way to obesity and it wasn't until I changed what I was putting in my head that I was able to drop over 125lb! Keep the focus on joy, but also be mindful about what you eat rather than stuffing down your emotions…although it doesn't appear you have a problem expressing your feelings 😉

    By far the best exercise for weight loss is one that you enjoy and will do! I used to think I had to workout over an hour every day…I swam, rode bikes, lifted weights…and was still extremely overweight…and unhappy with my body. Now I workout about 15 minutes a day, am healthy–and happier than I have been in years!

    Keep it up and have fun in SF–now there's some good cardio climbing those hills!

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