A new year -- a new beginning. My resolution this year? Not to make any resolutions! Not that I don't enjoy the fantasy, just like everyone else. The problem is that I've made the same resolutions -- and dreamed the same dreams -- and set the same goals, and hoped for the same miracles every year for as long as I can remember. And, just like most people, I couldn't even remember what my resolutions were by the end of the month.
This year I'm taking a new approach. No absolute "anythings" -- just a series of painless little changes that, when taken together, will make life just a bit more pleasant. My goal this year is progress, not perfection.
I discussed weight loss with a friend. I spoke of my pattern of being disappointed that I'd only lost a few pounds. I'd get discouraged and give up, and that seemed to be my routine. She gave me what may be the best motivation I've ever heard. She said, when you lose one pound, go to the store and buy a one-pound block of butter. Put it in the fridge -- front and center -- and no matter what else needs to be refrigerated, keep that one pound of butter in the front, at eye level. Then, when you've lost the second pound, buy a second pound of butter to keep next to the first. Just visualizing what one or two pounds looks like makes you aware of your progress. Five or six pounds are pretty impressive. When you get to ten pounds, carry it around for five minutes. See what you're not carrying around any more. It can make a twelve-pound loss seem like the accomplishment it really is. Just marking your progress in a visual way can make all the difference in the world.
I'm approaching my New Year in much the same way. Would you like to join me in not making any resolutions this year? It might be fun to just make some small, relatively painless changes and reap the benefits of some major improvements. What do I mean? Well, let's begin with the house.
The bathrooms are my favorite place to start because they go so quickly and it's easy to measure your progress. First, get a strong grocery bag. I like to put a paper bag inside a plastic one because it's much larger and sturdier than the plastic one alone, and it's relatively leakproof. Open the medicine chest and begin dumping. Check expiration dates. Anything too old gets tossed out. The toothpaste that nobody likes, even if half a tube still remains, goes. Call your pharmacist to inquire about the expiration of any prescription drugs. Most pharmacists are very happy to oblige. They don't ask where you bought the product, so don't feel shy if you've bought from several places. They will honestly tell you what is wise to keep and what is best discarded. They will also tell you the safest way to dispose of each item. Many are best flushed -- but some shouldn't be. Again, it's best to ask your pharmacist.
Dump the razor blades that don't fit your new razor, the samples that you never needed -- and probably don't need now -- and the throat lozenges that have become old and sticky. While you're at it, make a written note of anything that you're running low on, and any first-aid supplies that you probably should have on hand, but don't.