Pink & Blue Mummyland

Pink and blue parenting through pink and blue moods….

Journey from ‘do-it’ to ‘be-it’

on January 8, 2015

New Year’s Resolutions.

We all make them.

Most of us break them.

Only the most dedicated among us last longer than a few weeks before the diet wavers, the gym routine falters, or the odd glass of wine or cigarette creeps in. It’s not long before we are back in our same old ways, doing the same old things, feeling worse than we did before. By February we’re as miserable as the weather.

What’s the problem with resolutions? Why do so many of us struggle to keep them?

I think I’ve finally figured out my basic problem. I forget that resolutions to change are all about behaviour, about what I do. Instead, I set myself targets in the frame of mind that changing what I do will automatically change who I am.

Here’s what I mean.

It starts with a confession: I’m Abbie, and I’m a deadline junkie (all together, “Hi Abbie…”). I always think that I like goals and deadlines. I’ve recently been exploring why this is, because deadlines tend to stress me out and send me right back to the Valium bottle (or the sneaky glass of wine, or the odd cigarette…shhh, don’t tell!). So far this year I’ve had two deadlines to meet, so I’ve tried to use each one to take note of why I thrive on them.

I’m finally figuring out that I set myself goals because when I meet them, I feel good about myself. It’s not that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, but when I rely on it, it doesn’t help me. I manage to stop smoking, lose weight, not shout at the kids, and I get to feel like a better Abbie. I don’t mean like an inherently good person, who has managed to achieve something. I mean a better person because I’ve met goals.

Setting goals makes me feel safe, because I know that my next fix can be just around the corner. Finished a blog post? Quick! Find an article to write for someone! Finished a book? Quick! Time for another proposal – by March at the latest! Finally finished cleaning the oven? Quick! Clear the loft by summer!*

The problem is that even the most complicated tasks don’t last that long in the grand scheme of things, and I soon need another task, another thing, another project to finish in order to get the buzz that comes with being ‘a person who completes things’. Maybe it’s because I’ve started two graduate programmes that I’ve never finished, and have countless books, or articles, or blogposts, or knitting projects, or housework tasks that will probably never be completed. I see myself with a yellow post-it on my forehead: ‘can’t see things through’. It’s not a post-it I like, so my main goal is to find a load of pink and orange and green post-its to cover it up. ‘Author’, ‘mother’, ‘speaker’, ‘knitter’ – whatever my completion target happens to be this week.

So, here’s my resolution. I will aim to not be a goal junkie. I have no idea how this looks yet, but I hope that by New Year’s Eve this year I can look back and see myself not relying on goal completion to feel good about myself. I’m going to chuck out all those post-its and change them for one that says ‘doing alright’. I’m going to try and change my perspective from ‘must do’ to ‘just be’.

* I should probably confess that the oven thing never happens. And things fall out of the loft when I open it, so I tend to leave it. This is a post about goals, not miracles.

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