For some of us, a new year means the opportunity to change for the better. Maybe you want to exercise more or unplug from social media or spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, I wish you luck. That said, I must admit that I'm not exactly a shining example when it comes to keeping a new year's resolution.
Of course, I don't have much of a problem creating a new year's resolution. It's pretty easy to identify what you want to change about your life, especially if you're as self-deprecating as I am. I want to lose weight. I want to read more. I want to hike the trails at Lake Leatherwood a few times a week. I want to write better and sleep more soundly. It's almost too easy to point out all the ways my life could improve. It's not so easy to put that into action.
Every year, I sit down and decide what I want to change. Last year, I made the wayward decision to cut out bread from my diet. That went well for the first two weeks. Then I wanted a sandwich, so I had one. I promised I'd go back to the no-bread thing after that, and I did ... for two days. Remembering how good that sandwich was, I started eating croutons on my salads. It didn't take long for me to completely revert back to my old eating habits. Like many I've had in the past, I abandoned that resolution like a bad habit.
Thinking back on it, I've realized that it wasn't a good resolution to begin with. Why did I think I could successfully overhaul my eating habits once Jan. 1 rolled around? If I was that determined about changing my diet, shouldn't I have started doing so the moment I felt the need? The reason new year's resolutions don't usually work is because many people resolve to change a fundamental part of themselves all in one go. Impressive people can quit lifelong habits cold turkey, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that.
For me, habits need to change gradually. Instead of cutting out bread, I should have resolved to eat more green vegetables and cut down on grain. I love bread far too much to get rid of it. Now I know I will probably never live gluten-free. I'm not sure how I didn't know that from the get-go, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the way a new year can convince the best of us that things are going to change.
That's not to say last year was entirely static. In fact, I experienced a lot of change. I got engaged, got promoted to associate editor of Carroll County Newspapers, began running day-to-day news operations at Lovely County Citizen and capped off the year by getting married. Meanwhile, our country elected a surprising new leader. It was certainly a year of change, but none of that change had anything to do with my new year's resolution.
This year, I haven't decided on my new year's resolution yet. I'm not sure I'll even have one. Life is constantly changing anyway. The best thing we can do is resolve to roll with the punches and try to be good to ourselves when we fall short.
As far as resolutions go, that one isn't so bad.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.