Here & there: ‘More of/Less of’ lists outlast the already-expiring New Year’s resolutions

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — And just like that, we are three weeks into the new year. We’ve made our resolutions, committed to self-improvement. We’ve purchased gym memberships, signed-up for that Italian class or even bought kale at market.

Nobody needs to know the kale is still sitting uneaten in the fridge, because who actually likes kale? According to Jim Gaffigan, no one but weirdos. (Ok, I actually like kale, but my family definitely thinks I’m weird.)

My sister complains about how busy gyms get in January. As a regular gymgoer throughout the year, she wants a fast pass to skirt the newbies. (Confession: I have a similar urge with Mexican Food and Cinco de Mayo – regulars like me at Café Rio should get a Cinco de Mayo VIP lane.)

But by week three, our resolve might be fading. Because, you know, life. And my sister gets her wish for a less-crowded gym come February. The kale gets a permanent reprieve. And who really needs to know Italian anyway?

At the start of each school year, I take my three boys out on one-on-one dates. They pick the restaurant – sometimes it’s Chuck-A-Rama and sometimes it’s Chick-fil-A. As we eat, we talk about their goals: academic, physical and emotional. Among the lists over the years have been things like get better penmanship, earn a 3.8 GPA, learn how to do a backflip on skis and learn to treat myself kindly.

Back when my youngest was 3-years-old, one of his goals was to be able to wipe his own bottom. I’m happy to report that he accomplished his goal quickly. I’m not so happy to report, however, that he then refused to do it regularly, citing that just because he could do it, didn’t mean he wanted to do it all the time!

We write the goals under each boy’s name on a large chalkboard near the laundry room so we can keep them top of mind. As the year progresses, the boys check things of their lists and sometimes update them with more realistic goals.

On this same chalkboard, each boy also has the college they’d like to attend. Those have evolved over the years, too. My youngest, again at age 3, picked “Harvey Mudd” as his college of choice because he liked mud.

I tell you all of this – tell you about the school year goals and the college goals – to tell you this: I’m over New Year’s Resolutions. Goals have their time and place, but I’ve decided I don’t like them at the New Year.

The New Year is for something else. The New Year is for drawing in. The New Year is for processing what came before.

Writer Venice Wyatt says, “winter time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all we have been through, all that has passed in this full year … ”

In that vein, I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions this year. Instead, I made of a “More of/Less of” list – all the things I want more of this year, and all the things I want less of.

I want more yoga. I want more reading good books. I want more patience with myself when I make a parenting fail. I want more laughing with friends.

I want less time on devices for the whole family. I want less shoulder pain. I want less busyness. And I want less fireworks (read my last column, “Próspero Año,” to see why).

My plan is to audit my days and weeks against this list throughout the year. Am I making time to do the things that are important to me on my “more of” list? Am I eliminating the things that don’t bring me joy and happiness on my “less of” list?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to progress and grow, I just want to do it in a kinder, gentler way. And, ultimately, that gets me to my happiest self.

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