Resolutions are like Christmas stocking candy in our house- they usually have come and gone by the second week of January. I was so uninspired this year that I actually haven’t set any yet. I have been doing some resolution research though. In those post-Christmas conversations over cold cuts and crackers at various family and friend gatherings that people just keep planning because no one is quite ready to give up that part of the holiday season yet, that uniquely warm and communal time when people feel an inter-connection like no other time of year, I’ve been polling my loved ones. From a seven tab Excel spreadsheet complete with calendar and formulas in the budget tab, to a refusal to resolute at all, I’ve heard all approaches. Here are some of my favorite tidbits of wisdom I’ve picked up on from their resolutions:
Find a church to call home- make it a priority this year to find a home for your spirituality, whatever that may mean for you. I’ve found that deciding on a home church to attend regularly is a particularly tough decision with a spouse, especially if you were raised with different religions. In my case, I was raised Christian while my husband, though exposed to religion through his Catholic grandmother, did not attend any church growing up and needs classic Bible stories explained to him. The biblical cultural references that are lost on him continue to surprise me! So for us, as with many others I know, finding a church that feels right for both of us will be a process. We will want to check out several in the area to find a church with values that align with ours and a style that we are comfortable with. If Troy and I decide to do this, I may also add in a rule about a required post-service brunch to share our thoughts with one another.
Make more time for family- I love this resolution, because family is at the true center of my life. Whether they’re driving me nuts or making me keel over laughing, we spend time together through it all. We are very lucky that our family is so clustered around the greater Seattle area and gets together frequently, so we see them a lot. If yours is more spread out or less organized about planning times to see one another, I think that this resolution is a very worthwhile investment of your time. Set aside one day of the week to visit, Skype, call or write to a family member who is special to you. I promise you won’t miss that extra hour of Netflix.
Stop feeding the man- he has a big enough private jet, don’t pay for the upgrade! As a child who grew up working in the family business, I loved hearing this one. The small business owners in our communities depend on our business for their livelihoods. Wouldn’t you rather help with their kids’ tuitions than deepen the pockets of giant corporations stockholders’? Most of us would say yes, definitely, but I understand how this can be tough in practice. At first, I recommend quitting your big box store shopping cold turkey, including surfing the online sales. Also avoid the temptation of rock bottom prices, because in addition to the questionable business practices that allow a company to undercut prices like this, the items usually do not end up to be as affordable as we first expect. My Papa John had a saying I love, “buy it once.” By this he meant that a $5 item that falls apart after a few uses just isn’t worth it. Instead, he was an advocate of saving up until he would invest in a quality piece that he could enjoy using for years to come. This resolution will enable you to invest in your local community, explore your true needs vs. wants, reuse old items in creative ways, and even save money! For groceries, seek out farmer’s markets, sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) produce delivery, shop at small markets, or even Trader Joe’s. Try to avoid the big chain grocery stores as often as you can. You will be surprised that you can save money this way if you prioritize meal planning and making your own sauces and other commercial ready to eat foods. For clothing and gifts, shop local small boutiques, score great deals at thrift stores and online buy/sell trade sites, support an artist on Etsy, sew and craft your own creations, or host a fun swap with your friends where everyone brings reusable items and piles them together and takes turns “shopping.”
At their heart, resolutions are just a self pledge to be a little bit better version of yourself- a better cook, more involved family member, get in better shape- and I tend to believe there is a place for those kind of goals all year round. So in the second week of January, here I go. This year, I will resolve to take it a bit easier. Lately (I blame lots of practice at my data-driven high pressure job) I’ve become am a habitual over-thinker, antagonizing over and over-analyzing simple decisions. I lean towards details and data and I believe in a well formed opinion or choice. But this year, I’d like to embrace my free spirited side. I won’t stress over whether or not to wake up early to work out or snooze one more time- I’ll just do it, or go back to sleep. I won’t worry if I am pleasing everyone all of the time, instead I’ll seek to make decisions about my time and money based on my values and intentions instead of my guilt. I’m even going to resolve not to freak out if I break this resolution and freak out a few times- c’est la vie!