New Year, Better Me: Ten resolutions

Happy 2019! Wow it feels weird saying that, I could have sworn I was just saying happy 2008. It’s that time of the year again where everyone vows they will start something new, improve an aspect of their life, or achieve a goal. In the past, I never paid attention to resolutions because I never really wanted to change anything. I always would say I want this new year to be better than the last, but I never acted on anything to make that happen. Now that I am older, and have been setting more goals than in the past, I can add myself to the list of those who say “new year, new me.” But in all honesty, I am not trying to make a new me. I like myself! The more accurate phrase would be “new year, better me.”  With that, these are the ten tasks I’d like to tackle to make my 2019 the best year yet.

1. Floss more

No, not the dance move. This resolution may seem a bit anti-climactic as I am sure you were expecting something big, but answer this question honestly: do you floss everyday? I’m going to go ahead and guess a confident no. I am guilty of being too lazy to floss everyday solely because it takes effort to weave the stupid string under my two permanent retainers, but this is something that I want to fix. I learned from an aspiring dentist friend that not flossing causes more build up in the arteries, and could lead to a heart attack. So yes, not running a piece of string between your teeth can kill you. In my mind, it seems like such an easy fix, but it is just one of those things that I easily skip, and justify skipping because it “saves me time.” My goal for 2019, is to floss everyday so I can go to the dentist and not have bleeding gums every time they floss, revealing that I don’t floss a much as I should. In order to achieve this goal, I have strongly considered going back to the Dino Flossers, because I might as well make it more fun if I’m going to follow through with this!

2. Spend less

Lately, it seems like I have had the mindset that money grows on trees. Online shopping is more dangerous than you know, especially when it comes to Poshmark, and having Apple Pay installed so I don’t have to enter in my card info anymore and just use my touch ID. I have mentioned how thankful I am for Poshmark in a past post because I can get really expensive things for a great price, but that doesn’t mean that just because it is a good price, I should buy it.  It’s like telling myself that calories don’t count if I’m stealing food off someone’s plate. I am still spending money even if things are on sale, and apparently, that notion has not sunk in yet. Buying things on sale may save money, but if that happens frequently, it really adds up fast! So for my bank account’s sake, this is a mindset that I am going to be more conscious about. As much as I hate seeing a good sale on Lulu leggings pass me by, it will help me in the long run, and as psychology says, instant gratification is not always the answer. 

3. Worry less

A couple posts back, I wrote about pieces of advice I live by, and one of those being “don’t worry about the things you can’t control.” Well, I still have not figured out a way to practice that advice. As a type A, perfectionistic person, worrying really should be my middle name instead of Michelle. Think of a random word in your mind right now. Whatever word you are thinking of, I have probably worried about it at some point in my life, or something related to it. My worrying has gone to great lengths, and has made me do some pretty weird things in order to resolve it such as waking up to myself reciting psychology terms in my sleep. (Some people sleep walk and talk, I sleep study). Sometimes, I ironically worry about how worried I get over things. Don’t get me wrong, a little bit of worrying is healthy, and productive, but usually that isn’t the case for me. I worry to the point where I cannot stress about something more, it is at the maximum level of stressing. I worry about things in the future (as in ten+ years out), I worry about next month, next week, the next hour, and I even worry about things that have already happened. Yes, that is totally illogical, I know, but that is just how I roll. So this year, I hope to make myself stop rolling like that, or at least reduce it to the point where I don’t still worry about the wrong form of “your” I used in the final paper I wrote in 8th grade stress management class. 

4. More time with friends

If I spent as much time with my friends as I do with my textbooks, this one would not be a resolution for me. I love being busy with all the organizations I’m involved in on campus, but sometimes I will go a whole week without seeing my friends despite the fact they live literally a floor above me. My social life shouldn’t have to be a mandatory scheduled sisterhood event event that is programmed in my Google calendar. College is about having those experiences that aren’t planned; such as 2 AM pancake runs to Perkins, hitching a ride with a friend to Mankato for Starbucks, unplanned girls nights, pole dancing exercise class, yoga with goats, and following Nemo the campus cat around instead of doing homework. This is not to say that I haven’t done things like this before (this stuff is too specific to make up), I just don’t do “unplanned” enough. I love all my friends, and am fortunate that they are so close, which is why I want to spend all the time I can with them before they go back to West Virginia, Arizona, off to med school, and even before I graduate. But this won’t happen without my next resolution.

5. Be more flexible

To my gymnasts out there, I do not mean this in the sense that I need to stretch more, because I still have all three of my splits down! If I were as flexible as my body is, this would not be a resolution. Unfortunately, my brain is not as flexible as my hamstrings. I don’t think I need to explain that I like things to be planned out based on my mentions of perfectionism, but it really can be counterproductive at times. As much as I’d like to just “go with the flow,” I can’t do that unless I know where the “flow” is going, how fast, where all the bends and curves are, and approximately how much time it takes to get there. I’ve had times where things have not gone according to my plan, and I haven’t been able to adapt. People always tell me they wish they were as organized, and obedient to a plan as me, but they don’t realize how that plan crumbles if it isn’t followed to a T. I want to be more flexible in the sense where I don’t have my whole day planned out hour by hour, and can change things up like going out for coffee with friends without thinking that I will fail a test if I don’t start studying that day because that’s what I planned. This quirk can definitely be attributed to gymnastics. I find it ironic that the sport that made me flexible (literally), is the reason that I am the farthest from flexible (figuratively). Having to manage my time so strictly for 16 years really trained my brain as much as my body. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, but I don’t know if that takes into account something that has been done for years and years. I’ll give it my best shot.

6. Appreciate myself more

We are all our worst critics. And even though I am aware of this concept, I still am as hard on myself as Gordon Ramsay is on the people who ask him to rate their meals on Twitter (it’s not pretty). Living in a social media filled society where being fit, eating right all the time, and basically living the cookie cutter lifestyle where nothing goes wrong, I sometimes lose sight into all that I have achieved and all that I am. As a psych major, I am fully aware of the social comparison theory and how harmful it is, yet I still practice it as most do. Just the other day, I killed a workout and felt great. About a minute later, I looked on Instagram and saw someone else’s workout paired with their washboard abs. I told myself their workout was way more effective and intense than mine, and she looked better than I did, making me forget about all that my body just did for me, and left me feeling like I wasn’t enough. It is so easy to focus on the negatives about yourself, and all that you’re not, and I definitely fall victim to this. People are very good at playing the “I spy” game in the mirror, but life is so much more than about looks. It is hard to believe that when that’s not what the majority think, which is why I haven’t been able to adopt that thought yet. We hear it over and over again, “your worth is not defined by a number” whether that be how many reps you can do, jeans size, or on the scale, but how many people actually believe that? This year, I want to stop hearing, and start believing. God has given me one body that has allowed me to do my favorite sports, sit through great psychology lectures, spend time with my friends, and much more; it’s time I start to appreciate it!

7. Eliminate my “all or nothing” mindset

Writing this, I can’t help but laugh at myself because the way my mind works is low key ridiculous, and I am fully aware it is. All or nothing, go big or go home, black or white, on or off, just cheese or all the toppings, walk or sprint; that is my brain. I only have two settings, there is no in between. This can be very frustrating when there needs to be an in between, but there literally is not. It is very similar to the feeling of when you reach to open a door that you need to get into, but the door knob is gone. My all or nothing mindset applies to everything I do. If I don’t have the time to do my usual workout, but can at least get a 30 minute workout in, my brain tells me that I just shouldn’t go at all. If I am trying to eat healthy, but I don’t follow my original plan and eat something I didn’t intend on eating such as one cookie, I turn it into a full on cheat day. If I have a paper to write, I will write it all in one sitting, otherwise I won’t write it at all. When I run, I will only walk, or run a 5k. In these situations, I fully understand that the logical thing to do is workout for 30 minutes because it’s still better than nothing, eat the cookie and move on with my life because that’s less damage than a whole cheat meal, write half the paper rather than all of it, and maybe just run a solid two miles. That’s simply not how I am wired. I go big or go home in all aspects of my life, which is why it has often led me to taking on more than I can handle, or leaving my bored out of my mind. On the other hand, the all or nothing mindset has been helpful for me when I have needed to put in my full effort such as gymnastics meets, relationships, and studying for finals; but that is about it! This year, I want to be able to have the option for kinda, go sub par and halfway home, gray, dim the lights, jog, or two toppings max. 

8. Take better care of myself

It is always my goal to excel in all aspects of my life being; academics, fitness, my faith, being a good daughter, and friend (all or nothing!) In my mind, I imagine bar graphs for each of these things, and each one must reach 100% otherwise I feel like I’m slacking. Oddly enough, there is one aspect that I seem to forget about, which is taking care of myself. “Balance” is not a word in my vocabulary unless it means succeed at everything you do. There have been many times when I should have taken care of myself, but instead tried to put everything and everyone else first. Going to class sick as a dog because I wanted those five dinky participation points, competing with two swollen sprained ankles because I didn’t want to let my team down (or my pride), driving long distances just to make a friend feel better, going to the gym when my body was screaming it didn’t want to go like a toddler at McDonald’s play land, staying up to study when I shouldn’t have, and insisting on going to school while on very strong anti convulsants because I didn’t want to fall behind, are just a few examples. I know what’s best for me, and what I should do, but I never choose to because choosing myself feels selfish in my mind. Because of all these situations, it can be hard to be a functioning human being, and it definitely takes a toll on my mood, energy, FND, and wellbeing. For the last couple months, I’ve noticed that I have felt a little “off” and couldn’t figure out why. It has now become clear to me (because someone pointed it out) that I have been running on empty, and parallel a car trying to drive across the country with an empty gas tank. At this point, I am outside of the car and pushing it from behind because there is not one drop of gas left. Going into this new year, I want to have more balance, and be ok with not having to reach 100% in everything I do because that is absolutely exhausting.  It requires some give and take, realizing it is ok to not do it all, and not spreading myself too thin. I also want to put more effort and energy into fighting my FND by actually doing my mental exercises everyday, and really trying hard to manage it like I should be, because that is just as important as being a student, athlete, child of God, daughter, and friend. I can’t be any of those things if I don’t take care of myself first.

9. Follow through

Reading this one, you may be thinking of following through with things such as commitments, promises, and deep stuff like that. But honestly, it isn’t like that for me at all. I just want to follow through with little things such as starting and finishing a book, finishing a Netflix show, a movie, a new piece I’m writing, keeping up with my vision board, saying I’ll do my laundry every Thursday, and even following through with these resolutions I made. I don’t know if it is just me who experiences this, but I will have so much motivation to do something, but when I actually have time to do it, it is the last thing I want to do. I have been reading the same book for two years, and by read, I mean pick it up once a day, then put it back down because I want to watch the Netflix show that I ultimately will not finish. This notion of never taking initiative to start (or finish) something I want to try basically makes my Pinterest pointless, and I’ve got so many cool and Instagram worthy things to try!  So this year, I am finally going to finish that book, Netflix series, blog post in my drafts, learn to cook in order to post my Pinterest fail pictures, but I can’t make any promises about the laundry. 

10. Let go of the past

Here is the “deep” one you all have been waiting for, and I am going to be fully open and honest because it is something that needs to change. I haven’t been shy in sharing the adversity I have faced these last couple years regarding my health issues and injuries in college. I also haven’t been shy in sharing how I see it as a blessing in disguise, and how it has shaped me into who I am. What I have been shy in sharing, is that I still hold onto the negative memories, and how the fear of it all happening again prohibits me from making certain decisions, or having a more positive mindset. It is only human (as the evolutionary theory in psychology explains) to have those negative experiences in the back of your mind in order to be more cautious going forward so you don’t die. For the record, the evolutionary theory is a bit more extreme and based on survival, not just everyday living. I don’t think my brain quite realizes that distinction yet, as I get nervous about things I shouldn’t have to anymore. This is ultimately why my schedule is so rigid, because in the past if I didn’t follow a rigid schedule such as exercising only in the morning, not sitting for too long, getting to sleep before 11, and not eating past 8 PM, my FND would give me trouble. I am all about being fearless, and testing the waters, but when it comes to my FND and all I have been through, I will not even dip a toe in the water to see if I’m capable of more than I was back then. I’m still stuck in this rigid schedule because of this fear that if I change it, everything will go back to how it was in the past. Traveling is also one of those things that makes me apprehensive because in the past, traveling caused me to have many FND flare ups and hospital visits, sucking out all the joy of the experience. I will count myself out of social events just because I don’t want to make myself too tired, causing a flare up, and I fear that since it has gone that way in the past, it will reoccur. Note to self: just because something has happened in the past, doesn’t mean it will happen again. I’m such an advocate for improving myself in every way possible, which is why going into this year, I want to be able to cut ties with all the negatives that I have experienced. I’ve adopted a “glass half full” mindset because I’ve gotten my hopes up so many times in the past, just to receive more bad news. I find it ironic that I let the fear of things that have already happened, and are in the complete past, dictate choices and thoughts that I have now. While I did learn in HR class this semester that “the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior in similar circumstances,” behavior is totally different than adversity, because I can control behavior, while adversity isn’t really one of those things people choose to have. 2019 is the year I will go against my previous experiences, and realize that I won’t die if I choose to go on a road trip with my friends or break my rigid routine, my FND won’t necessarily flare up if I stay out past 11, and I will stop thinking that looking at the glass half empty protects me. Would you keep a container of rotten eggs stinking up the house because you bought them in the past? Didn’t think so. Holding onto the past can be so toxic if it’s not something worth holding onto.  

Resolutions can be daunting. A lot of people make resolutions that are “life changing,” but resolutions don’t have to be huge changes. Maybe you want to watch one less hour of TV, eat more vegetables, or break a habit. It can be really hard to hold yourself accountable once the New Year starts (which is why the gym usually goes back to its normal amount of people a couple weeks into January). Don’t be one of those people! Write down your resolutions somewhere, post it on the fridge, tell someone, or make it public on social media like I literally am doing right now, so feel free to call me out if you see me slacking! It can also be really hard to think about things that you want to change about yourself. I know for me, it was hard to admit to myself that I needed to improve some of these things. If resolutions haven’t worked for you in the past, consider going at it a different way (I made the resolution to floss everyday last year but that didn’t happen, hence the Dino Flossers incentive). Mindset is also vital to making a change. Don’t see resolutions as something you HAVE to do, see it as something you GET to do! If you have to do it, chances are, you won’t. Making a change is challenging , but so is being unsatisfied with where you are now- choose your challenge. 

Happy New Year, everyone! New year, better you!