Miriel left me a comment on my last post, saying (nicely), "Isn't this a little over the top?" And, yeah, it probably is.
It's a temperament thing.
In Gretchen Rubin's framework I am an Upholder with Obliger leanings, which means that I am hard-wired to set goals for myself (Upholder) and greatly assisted by creating some accountability (Obliger). So mostly these resolution posts are just me being me. I have been making new year's resolutions for almost 40 years, and I have learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn't. In most of these resolutions I am building on things that are already working. I was already going to read a bunch of books this year; that's a baked-in habit. I'm just reminding myself to focus some of my reading time on things that require a bit more focus than my most recent Amazon recommendations. I was already going to work out this year; I'm giving myself short-term goals (i.e., finish the race; don't be last) to motivate the workouts.
I used to get stressed out about doing All The Things but these days I give myself permission in advance to adjust as I go, which means some of them won't happen or won't stick. (I posted an example of this in early August. I flossed the heck out of July and now I am back to my usual slacker standards.) I am happiest when I'm working on a mix of habits and goals, which makes for a long post. Habits don't give a person boxes to tick in the same way the goals do, and I LOVE ticking boxes with a passion that is, frankly, kind of weird. But habits make it possible to hit goals repeatedly. Every sustained advance I have ever made in personal discipline is the result of habit formation.
It's a stage-of-life thing.
I sleep through the night almost every night these days, after more than 16 years of frequently interrupted sleep. THERE IS HOPE, mothers of small children; I promise there is hope. When I sit down to dinner with my family, we have pleasant conversations while people (mostly) eat the food I serve them. When I go to Mass, I issue occasional minor reminders about fidgeting. Nobody bites me. Nobody bites anybody! Nobody yells, "But I-I-I-I-I-I wanna cookie too!" in the communion line.
If I remind my kids to be kind to their siblings, they say, "Oh, sorry," with genuine contrition, and strive to do better. I never hear unexpected banging noises from other parts of the house that turn out to be a 4-year-old pounding together two things that really should never have been pounded together. (I still have the marks in my piano bench left there by the bottom of a purloined spice jar. It made an awesome hammer for the 30 seconds it took me to sprint across the house. Why the spice jar? I'll never know.) I am not responsible for anyone else's hygiene or toileting needs.
This changes everything.
I had no "spiritual output" section for a long time, because all of my spiritual output (except for a tiny music ministry role) was directed toward de-feralizing my own children. It was hard to be alone for an evening, because dinner was a struggle, and bedtime was a struggle, and the in-between times with boys beaning each other upside the head for no apparent reason could be soul-sucking. Even when we were first involved with this parish retreat program 5 or 6 years ago, it was still a sacrifice to have the other person away for three nights.
The load gets lighter. It feels lighter because my children are generally helpful pleasant people these days; it also feels lighter because those years made me stronger. In any case, I can direct some energy elsewhere without shortchanging my family. I still have to plan it: I only said yes to Alpha because it will end in early March just before my teaching load picks up. I will have to choose a fall half-marathon carefully, because I'll have to work around the fall retreat and that could get to be too much. Six or seven years ago I couldn't have done either of those things comfortably, let alone think about doing them simultaneously.
December is coming anyway.
I've had years when I felt blah about making resolutions, but I am usually highly motivated by this true fact: I will pass through this year but once. If I aim at nothing, I will probably hit it. If I aim at lots of things, I will miss some of them. But I'll usually be happy about having made the attempt.