I’m not usually one to set New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s a fear of failure. Or of getting started. Or the fact that resolutions always seem to be about losing weight or going to the gym, which seems so boring to me. Or maybe it’s just that I resist the idea that there should be a single day of the year devoted to self reflection and goal setting. It seems to me that looking up and giving thought to where we’re headed should be something we do more than just once a year.
So instead of setting a single resolution, I’ve come up with a list of ten “guiding principles” for the year ahead, all based on my experiences (and a few regrets) in 2014.
1. Always make time for family. I know this should be pretty obvious, but it’s not always easy for me. With my work-at-home schedule, sometimes the boundaries between personal time and work time become blurred. When I’m on deadline, I begin to think of weekends and evenings as “extra” time to catch up on work-related projects. This means less time spent playing games with my boys, cuddling up to watch movies, going to a museum, or getting out for a family bike ride or cross-country ski. This year I pledge to include more family time in the busiest of weekends.
2. Always make time for friends. For the past couple of years, I’ve gotten in the habit of meeting a group of girlfriends for dinner and drinks once a month. I’m always grateful to have had this time to reconnect, celebrate birthdays, encourage each other, and sometimes commiserate with an amazing group of inspiring women. But when my schedule is full, I begin to fret and whine that “I don’t have time.” But I do. And I for the sake of my sanity (remember, I spend my days in my basement office, in front of my computer screen), I need to make sure I see these fun friends regularly…meaning at least once a month in 2015.
3. Sometimes it’s better to just say “no.” I don’t do this often enough. There were several instances this year where I should have said no to a work project or volunteer commitment that didn’t quite mesh with my interests or my too-busy workload. Saying no gives me some breathing room and allows time to pursue projects or activities that may be a better fit for me.
4. Purge! My sister-in-law told me that her resolution in 2013 (a good one!) was to haul one bag of stuff to Goodwill each month…or maybe it was each week? I forget, but I’m so on board with this! For the month of January, I’ll start with the Christmas decorations in that box we’ve not even opened in the past several years. Can’t wait!
5. Finish where you left off. For the month of October, I did something creative each day. Sometimes I started a new project, but there were plenty of existing projects that I picked up and finally finished. In the knitting world, these are called UFOs (Unfinished Objects), and I’m making a point of finding closure on a few of these projects before moving on (and yes, this includes many of the projects started in October!).
6. Schedule one family outing each week. Now that the boys are old enough to entertain themselves, I’ve kind of forgotten the importance of getting them out of the house on the weekends. When they were younger, it was a necessity–a change in scenery made all the difference in everyone’s mood. Now that they can quietly retreat to a corner with the iPad (where I admittedly forget about them!), we don’t get out as much. And I miss it.
7. Focus on what you did instead of what you didn’t do. I admit it…I’m kind of a glass-is-half-empty kind of girl. I can completely clean the house in one day and then feel disappointed because I didn’t also get around to doing the laundry or patching the hole in a pair of Will’s jeans. I’ll be making an effort to turn this around in 2015. And I’m adding things like “sprawled on the couch and watched a movie with the boys” to my task lists. (See numbers 1 and 6 above.)
8. Remember to look up. On the drive home from holiday festivities this past weekend, Brian and I both caught a glimpse of a shooting star as it blazed across the nighttime sky. We were struck by how brilliant it was, and this feeling of being in the moment stayed with us for the next few minutes. But looking up doesn’t always have to be this literal. For me, looking up often means taking my focus off my work to really listen to my 8- or 10-year-old as he gives me a play-by-play of his day. And then take the time to talk about it. I always say that I’m dreading the day my boys turn into teenagers and stop talking. But they are talking now, and I need to remember listen.
9. Do something outside everyday. This is one goal that comes easily in the summer months but takes real effort when the temperature plunges below 5 degrees. But I’ve found that it makes a huge difference in my peace of mind. If getting out means a 20 minute walk with the dog, so be it. Make it happen.
10. Think you can’t? Think again. My husband, Brian makes a point of trying something new every so often to shake things up a bit. When the boys were spending hours in our alley learning to ride bikes, he learned to ride a unicycle. The following year he began to take mandolin lessons, an instrument he’d always wanted to play. This past August, I finally followed through on my on-again-off-again desire to complete a triathlon, which meant I had to conquer my fear of swimming. What a sense of accomplishment! I think I need to do this more often. Piano lessons? Learning to skate ski? Stay tuned.