One Last Resolution: Just for Today
As January comes to a close I want to finish the trilogy of “New Year’s Resolutions” posts (see Trying Something New for Thirty Days, and What Really Matters). One of the problems with traditional resolutions is that they are such set ups for failure. I’m going to lose weight! I’m going to stop losing my temper! I’m going to stop smoking! I’m going to exercise everyday! We start off with the best of intentions and then life gets busy, we get stressed, temptation arrives and then we stumble, we overeat, we yell at our kids, we pick up a cigarette, we skip the gym. Then we feel bad about ourselves, we get angry at ourselves, and we give up. Only to try again next year. This is where the 12 step adage of “one day at a time” makes so much sense. Growth is always a challenge. There’s a reason why new behaviors feel difficult and awkward, our brains are formatted to follow the path of least resistance, the usual path, the one we’ve trod so many times before. So doing something new goes against the momentum of the past, even if we are highly motivated. The best way to install new behaviors is to do it one step at a time, one day at a time.
One of the challenges I’ve set for myself in recent months is to overcome old fears and worries that tend to stage an “occupy Laura’s mind” demonstration when I’m not careful. The trouble is that I’m so used to going there: “oh, we’re going to do _______ Here’s where I get scared.” or I wake up and my mind immediately scans the list of the people I love looking for things to worry about. I know these aren’t healthy patterns, but they are second nature. Towards the end of last year, as the airwaves were filled with the usual discussion of New Year Resolutions, my family and I were discussing this challenge. My son suggested the idea of deciding to not be afraid, just for today. Light bulb moment! What a brilliant idea. I can decide that for today I’m not going to worry about what I can’t change. For today I’m going to let go of fear when it pops up its annoying head. I make no promises for tomorrow. Just for today I will let go of that which is not helpful. How about you?