With the New Year, I think a lot of people feel the need to come up with a resolution of some sort. To me, resolutions don’t work. We all kind of know that don’t we? How many jokes and memes have you seen about not keeping a New Years resolution longer than a week, tons right? There’s a reason for that, it’s because it’s the truth. I don’t want to discourage anyone from keeping their New Year’s resolution, but this is my take on a better way to improve yourself year to year.
I was curious where the New Year’s resolution tradition even came from. So I did some googling. Buckle in for a little history lesson guys, because I spent the time looking it up so I’m going to share it. Like many modern day traditions that we have, it all started with pleasing the gods. Ancient Babylonians would use the new crop year to choose a new king and make promises to gods that they would repay them in the year to come, but this actually took place in the Spring around our current day March or April. Ancient Romans did basically the same thing, making sacrifices to the god Janus in the new year and promising they would be good for the year to come. Early christianity used the new year to reflect back on mistakes from the past year and resolve to be better in the year to come, which is pretty much what we do now, religious or not.
Now, I definitely don’t think there is anything wrong with evaluating your life and wanting to make better choices and be a better person. But I think the pressure of a New Year’s resolution is too much and it makes a lot of people fail. I find when you sit down and say “I’m going to change these things about myself immediately”, it’s just setting yourself up to eventually give up. Instead I find it more constructive to look at who you are, find the things that you really don’t like and figure out ways that you can eliminate those negative things from your life. If you don’t like your weight (I use that because I think it’s probably the most common New Year’s resolution) instead of starting some strict diet on January 1st, I believe it would be better to look at the things you do that are contributing to the weight and make goals to change them. Try going on a walk everyday instead of staring at your phone on the couch. Try snacking on a bag of carrots instead of a bag of chips. You get the point. Small changes like that are more productive, in my opinion, than suddenly cutting out all of your favorite foods and replacing them with health shakes and celery. When you make such a drastic change, I find that it just sets you up to fail because you at some point will eat that cookie and then you just give up completely. I just use dieting as an example, but this same thing applies to any resolution you make. Look at the root of the negative thing you are wanting to change, and apply small changes to help correct it. Then keep it going throughout the year. When you get used to one of the little changes you made, add another one. By the time the New Year comes around again, you might be surprised how much you changed.
I do use the New Year to look back on the last year and evaluate my life and the person I am. This year I’m happy to say that that reflection was very positive for me. Not that I was unhappy a year ago, but I have a lot more joy in my everyday life now and I can’t help but attribute that to Oliver. I want to be the best version of myself for my son, so my reflection this year was really focused on how he sees me. For the year going forward I have 2 goals, and they are both focused on being a positive example for Oliver and are both things that I have actually been working on for a few months already.
My main goal is to be less electronic dependent. I think that this is a common resolution in todays world. I’ve made this my main focus because I don’t want Oliver thinking that screens are the most exciting thing out there. If he sees me looking at a screen all day, he’s going to want to look at a screen all day. So I know I need to cut down my screen time to be better for him. I know that seems a bit hypocritical since I obviously spend quite a bit of time each week writing for you lovely people. I mostly write while Oliver is napping, or in bed for the night. It’s very rare that I’ll pull out the computer in front of him. The hardest part is obviously the cell phone and social media. As part of my reflection on technology this new year I actually looked back over several years. It really wasn’t all that long ago that I got a smartphone. I worked at a Verizon store 6 years ago and my boss told me I had to get a smartphone because I couldn’t sell them to people when I had my old “stupid phone” sitting on the counter. It made sense, and it gave me the final push I needed to enter the smartphone world. 6 years may seem like a long time, but before that I didn’t check facebook constantly. I didn’t even have instagram or any other social media, other than myspace, but I don’t even think myspace made it into the smartphone era. Life really was simpler. I think I was a lot more present in life then as well. Social media has its positives, it’s a great way for me to keep family who I don’t see very often in the know with my life and vice versa. I know a lot more about some of my cousins now than I did before we connected online and I like that I am able to see some of my family who I don’t necessarily keep in touch with. But then there is the negatives of social media. I don’t know why I feel the need to check facebook and instagram 100 times a day, there really isn’t that much going on that I need to see. And whatever it is, it could wait until later. I am trying to not care about what is on my phone as much and I think I do a decent job at focusing on Oliver when he is awake but I know I could be better. I am striving to cut down on time spent on the online world and really enjoy the real world that I am a part of. I still have my phone handy to take my daily 50 pictures of Oliver, but I am resisting the urge to check in on social media more than a few times a day. I’ve even set limits on my phone for facebook and instagram, so if I’m on them too much the app will shut down for the day. This goal doesn’t just relate to Oliver though, it applies to everything and everyone around me. I find that we tend to ignore the people we are “closest” to for the internet. We get so comfortable with them that we ignore them and I want to make sure that I am enjoying time with the people I am closest to and really seeing the world around me.
My second goal is also pretty unoriginal, I’ve seen quite a few articles about it as a resolution already, and it’s one that makes some people around me roll their eyes. I’ve decided that I want to focus on being less wasteful and kinder to our planet. There were a few things this past year that have helped me realize that this is something important to me. If you read my cloth diaper post you might remember me talking about how bad disposables are for our planet. My research into cloth diapers really helped my commitment to using them. It makes me feel really good when I go another day without adding 10 diapers to the landfills. With this one simple life choice, I knew that there had to be other ways I could reduce household waste, but it seemed intimidating to start. So our local government helped me when they banned single use plastic bags from our city. This meant that the grocery store would no longer have plastic bags after the new year. I’m not a huge fan in the government dictating the way we live our lives, but I think sometimes people need a little push to do the right thing, and that’s the way I interpreted this local government decision. Not long after they made that announcement, Kroger announced that by 2025 all of their stores nationwide would be plastic bag free anyway, so this was a change that was coming to my shopping routine whether the government did it or not. This change inspired me to dig out my reusable bags, and buy 3 more for a whopping $3 total, and start using them right away. I’ve been using them for a few months now and the hardest part is remembering to take them in to the store with me. But I’ve even got that down pretty well now. I may invest in some stronger ones eventually, but for now my $3 investment is working just fine and it feels good to not fill my trashcan with plastic after every shopping trip. With these two things down, for the new year I wanted to find other ways that I could reduce waste in my home. I started looking at single use plastics and I’m working on ways I can eliminate them from our lives. One way I am starting up this year is using reusable straws. I told my mom and Mauricio about my desire to do this a few months ago and they both laughed at the idea of me carrying around straws to whip out in restaurants. But then they both ended up getting me reusable straws for Christmas, so as silly as they think I am it’s nice to know that they both support me in this choice. My plan is to make a little case to carry them and always have some with me so that when we go to a restaurant we can get in the habit of saying we don’t need straws. We’ll see how it works out, but I’m happy that I have at least one thing in the works for reducing waste. I’m also looking into reusable ziploc type storage, but haven’t been able to find anything local that fits my needs. If you guys have any suggestions on reusable products or ways that I can be kinder to the planet, let me know! I’m open to any and all suggestions to help this journey!
With just a few changes here and there I hope that when I reflect back on 2019 I see myself as someone who is very involved in the world around me and aware of the waste I’m producing. I want to show my son that living in the moment and caring for the world around you is important. The joy children get from the simplest things is something I want to re-experience with Oliver. I want to share in his excitement of every little piece of this world. I can’t do that if I’m staring at my phone wrapped up in the digital world while he’s out exploring the real world. I also want the world around him to be beautiful, and if we keep producing trash like we do he could end up in a world like Wall-E. Oliver is a motivation for so many things in me and Mauricio’s lives and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.