Thursday, January 15, 2015

January Is Not The Time To Test Your Resolve

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, January 14, 2014 by Sara Jewell Mattinson.

We’re two weeks into the new year. How’s it treating you? So far so good? How’s everybody doing with their New Year  resolutions? 
You doing okay? Plugging along, keeping those cravings and bad habits in check as you steam forward with great enthusiasm and success?
Yeah, thought so. 
It’s tough, isn’t it, to make changes? Especially when the world around you doesn’t seem to support you.
I mean, if your resolution was to walk more, um, totally understand if that hasn’t happened yet. Minus 21 plus a wind chill? Not even the dogs are interested in going out and they’re covered in fur. 
One of my resolutions for 2015 was to stop eating sugar. I was doing great on New Year’s Day until then my friend Alia showed up with a platter of Lebanese treats. 
I love her treats. Cashew, walnuts, filo pastry and honey! Try as I could, it was hard to justify the nut protein and the medicinal properties of honey.
But you know what? It was okay. Who says you have to get it right the first day? Or the second day? Or the first week, for that matter?
So we’re two weeks into the new year. You doing okay? Or are you consumed with guilt and self-loathing that you failed to keep any of your resolutions? Maybe one of your resolutions could be to stop being so hard on yourself.
My other resolution was to stop complaining. Now let’s talk daily failure to keep a resolution! We really do complain a lot about nothing so one way to make myself happier is to stop reacting to and commenting on those simple annoyances I can’t do anything about.
I can’t control other people’s reactions but I can control my own.
So if you’re moaning and groaning about not sticking to your resolutions again, stop. 
Because we’re only two weeks into the new year and I’ve said it before, does it make any sense to make major, or even minor, changes on January first when all that chocolate is still lounging around in its new pajamas and the outside temperatures are enough to freeze a woolly mammoth in its tracks? 
If there was ever a perfect time to absolutely fail at resolving to change some habits, January is  it. I mean, look at the name of the Roman god for whom the month is named: Janus. Do you see th word inside that name? That’s the kind of month it is. 
February, on the other hand, is most likely named for the purification festivals, februa, held in ancient Rome during that month.
So sit up straight, square those shoulders and finish off that chocolate eclair because this is only the training period. We’re only two weeks into the new year and it’s far smarter to consider January a transitional month as we psyche ourselves up for eating less sugar, walking more, complaining less, starting that exercise class, giving up chips and pop and maybe even quitting smoking. 
It’s January, for heaven’s sake. This month is simply about survival, which means staying warm and getting your jeans zipped up. This is no time to resolve to give up cookies and hot chocolate and Quality Street chocolates. 
Not that I’m talking about myself or anything.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Quit beating yourself up for not being able to quit those cigarettes. After all, when it’s minus 22, you need to huddle around that warm glowing tip for warmth.
So you have two more weeks to train. Come February first, you’ll be a powerhouse of resolve.  And you’ll be a purified machine of unbreakable resolve by the time the temptations of Valentine’s Day roll around. 

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