Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Writing Lab: On Keeping One's Nose to the Grindstone

I've never been much of a New Year's resolution person. I'm a lot more spontaneous than that, so when I decide I want to change something about my life, I usually just go ahead and do it right then. When I'm sick of being fatter than I want to be, the diet starts at my next meal. When I'm tired of writing a certain type of content for my clients, you can bet the next project I pursue is the type of thing I'd rather be doing.

That said, on the rare occasion I even try to make a New Year's resolution, I don't keep it for very long -- maybe a couple of weeks or a month at most. I really need to be feeling things at the time, which is why I typically just try to ride the wave if I experience a sudden burst of motivation. Sometimes that happens around New Year's, but it could just as easily happen in the middle of August or around my birthday in March. The desire to change something about my life generally sets in the second some proverbial straw breaks the proverbial camel's back and all that.

I am, however, way more likely to actually stick with things if I can make what I'm doing part of a team effort. For instance, if Seth wants to try to lose a couple of pounds with me, I'm way more likely to say no to an urge to have that extra cocktail late at night or to choose a cookie over an apple the next time I have a sweet tooth. I wouldn't want to let him down or sabotage his own efforts by setting a bad example.

Announcing that I'm going to try doing things differently to my Facebook friends or social media circles in general can help as well. When I feel like other people are watching me, waiting to see the outcome of whatever positive decision I've just made, I feel more accountable. I don't want people to think of me as a quitter or to get the impression that I'm someone that can't ever finish what she starts. I have friends like that and I know what I tend to think when they give up on yet another goal. The last thing I want is for people to think of me as that kind of person.

Ultimately though, I've found that the best way to get myself to stick to resolutions is to actually give myself permission to fail for a change. I'm impulsive. I'm not good at forcing myself to keep my nose to the grindstone. By now, I've fully realized I may never be the kind of person that can do that, so I don't fight it so hard anymore. I try to remember that I don't have to throw all of my progress in the shitter just because I had a bad day and fell off the wagon for a second. When I was younger, I used to think that being a mature adult meant being perfect all the time and never, ever fucking up, even for a second... but maybe that's not it at all. Maybe it's actually the opposite.