As the baseball guys say, “Hit ‘em where they ain’t,” and so I am. Aunt Toby is here to perform a pre-emptive strike on New Year’s Resolutions. I know that most of you have this amorphous list of “to do” sitting around on bits of napkin and on the backs of envelopes and shopping lists. Most of you will get to January 5th and realize you have not done one thing on the list; nor have you even thought about HOW you’d achieve one of the things on the list. You’ll fiddle around with the list for the next week or so; it will get pushed under a pile of bills on the kitchen counter, only to be found about May, when you’ll look at it, sigh, feel vaguely guilty, loosen your belt another notch, realize you wasted the money on the gym membership, did NOT sit down and write that first chapter of the book, and did not make out that application for the grant/admission to the program, etc. You’re only in May and you will already feel that you’ve wasted the entire flaming year of 2011. Loser.
Okay? Got the script? This IS the way it will happen – it has happened to you and me and everyone else (except for Tony Robbins and everyone who writes for Success magazine and they all have perfect hair and teeth and have never doubted themselves).
And this time, it’s different. You know why?
Because it’s only CHRISTMAS DAY!!!!! We haven’t even finished with December yet. There’s still time!! You can avoid the entire deal.
Just repeat after me: Just one thing. Just do one thing.
Not six things or one thing a month or cure cancer or fix the U.S.financial system or get President Obama to suddenly discover that he’s lost his liberal base or get Joe Lieberman to enter a monastery or get Hillary Clinton to get a damn decent haircut (what IS it with that hair – OMG).
One thing. And make it one thing that you want to do and that you CAN do and one thing that is not going to require huge investments of time or money. Just one small change. Doesn’t matter what it is. Because if you do that, and keep doing it, guess what?
You did it. And then, you can do another thing.
Now, some people are really good at lists. I used to make lists but found them overwhelming and depressing when I could not get past number 1. So, I don’t do lists any more. I just pick one thing. Now, the important aspect to this is to make a good choice for that ‘one thing’. Good choices are easy to do, make you feel virtuous (without a lot of sacrifice), and can lead to harder things to do. Here are examples:
“Losing ten pounds”– this is a really BAD choice if you have had poor experiences with losing weight in the past. I don’t want to over analyze this but I feel that anything that has the potential to be depressing is not a good choice.
“Eat a green veggie at a meal every day” – now this is a GOOD choice because it’s an easy item. If you are not great on cooking, then pick up a bag of salad in the grocery store. As a matter of fact, pick up two and take one to work if you have access to a fridge. That way, no matter what, you have an opportunity to eat a green veggie. If the only green veggie you like is broccoli, then there is nothing wrong with eating broccoli. If you feel that you could push yourself a little bit, you can find things that taste LIKE broccoli, like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. All of a sudden, you are eating multiple green veggies. And feeling very virtuous (and yes, there is that whole Vitamin V and Vitamin K thing, but let’s not push the virtue too hard, especially if you have kids that you are feeding also).
“Get more exercise” – this is a BAD choice because it’s too slippery; most of us work sitting at a desk all day long. Just getting up from the chair to go to the bathroom would count as exercise. What we need is something more definite, something that will help to make us not depressed. A better choice is “Leave the office every day at lunchtime.” If you do this, you can feel very virtuous indeed: stress reduction, the possibility of walking and getting some fresh air, etc. And oh yes, you did get more exercise.
So, just pick one thing. Don’t necessarily pick the thing the makes you feel really depressed and upset now, like “stop shopping because the credit card balance is too high.” This might be too difficult right now; you need something that you can do, which you have control over, which will make you feel successful. Then later on you can tackle the ten pounds, the credit card balance, your relationship with your parents, and so on.
So, find all those little bits and pieces of paper, the lists, etc. Throw those all in the recycling. And think of one thing, one simple thing, that you can do – heck, you can start it right NOW! And continue it.
That’s the ticket.