ControverSunday: There’s No U in “Failer”

ControverSunday is a collaborative blog meme, whereby the goal is to share, discuss and hear out different perspectives on parenting, society and other stuff that matters. All those who participate bring to the table a unique perspective and approach others with mutual respect. Participating is a way to build community, to learn something and to reflect and evaluate our own choices.

(from the ControverSunday page at AMomentToThink)


Resolutions. I don’t tend to make them. (flurried searching of my own archives to ensure that this is true)

At this time of year I kind of tune out the resolution talk, the same way I tune out the “how to drive in winter weather” that hits the news in November and “how to stay cool in the heat” that hits the news in July.

But since someone asked. I think the problem with resolutions is two-fold:

1. Traditional-style resolutions sound like someone bossy bossing us.

“I will swear less.” That was one of my resolutions when I was a kid.
“I will be nicer to my friend’s little sister.” That was another. I think I was 10.

I said those things not because I wanted to do them out of any sense of moral obligation but because I knew it was something that would get me more approval from the adults in my life. The changes I claimed I would make weren’t for me. And something that isn’t for you is probably not going to work out in the long run. I currently swear a lot, for example.

If you make resolutions that are about things you care about, and it works for you to start them at the beginning of the calendar year, go for it! I do believe in momentum. If other people are doing the same thing at the same time, the energy in the universe will support you, to a certain extent. (the flip side of this is that if everyone in the world abandons their resolutions at the same time, the energy will sag like a three year old nursing bra.)

But this little project I’m working on, here, this blogging every day thing? I am not calling it a resolution, to write every day. Because if I do, my anti-authority brain will rebel and trip me up. I know that.

2. Most resolutions aren’t quantifiable

Deliverables! Yes I am using business-speak! In the office, if someone gives you a project, and you are a beginner at that sort of project, they don’t just hand it to you and come back at deadline time. They evaluate you part way through, see how you’re doing, see if your path needs to be shifted a bit. They want you to succeed, after all. They want you to achieve.

I am speaking of course of the ever-illusive, supportive upper manager. I realize they are rare.

Resolutions have no deliverables, really. Unless it’s “lose 10 lbs by X” and then you either do or you don’t. But if you set yourself up to fail by making an unquantified request of yourself (“eat more vegetables”) (how many more? How many a day? what kind?) then your brain has your permission to cheat (I ate a carrot! That’s more than last week!) and at the end of the day you’ll be saying, I was going to eat more vegetables. But I didn’t really. Oh well. Eeyore Sigh.

AND! If you perceive yourself to have failed in any way, it will only cause a snowball effect and you will think you are a fail-URE, which of course you are not, you are just a fail-ER and not even, because you didn’t give yourself a realistic goal to meet. “There’s no U in Failer.”

Set yourself up to succeed! Every time you succeed, your brain gets a little jolt of joy and you think you are stronger. It’s like PacMan. Nom. Nom. Strength! Nom. Nom. Strength!

If I were to make resolutions, I would make them small and achievable. Then bigger. Then bigger! Until I would be eating an entire garden’s worth of vegetables every day and completely uninterested in chips. But I would be realistic about that process taking a year or two. And along the way I would set up little goal posts and give myself a prize for getting to each one. Pretend my brain is a Golden Retriever. It’s similar to my approach to to-do lists. I write “shower” on my to-do list every day. I always get to cross it off. That feels awesome.

You can make a resolution anytime. Just call it something else, because the word “resolution” is so loaded. Call it a promise. You can make one now. Make it small, make it significant, make it and keep it and bask in the glory of your achievement.

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