change is good Lamplight

I left a trail of broken resolutions behind me

Background image from by Unsplash.
Background image from by Unsplash.

Here’s the good news: change is possible.

In 2015, I managed to kick my 20+ year addiction to sweet sweet coffee. Frappuchinos, mochas, or “coffees” that were more sugary creamer than coffee.

I still have them, sometimes, but barely. This year, I’ll probably try to stop altogether since I want to do with sugar what I’ve done with coffee.

Change is possible. It’s also hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Consider how the brain works and you realize that changing habits requires a shift in how our minds are literally wired. Changing our minds and changing our habits are linked together. Why resolutions often fail is that people, in general, expect that all they’ve got to do is flip a light switch from “on” to “off” or from “off” to “on” and that’s it. If only. If only. If only. God, if only. If that was how simple it was, I would have achieved a bucketload of resolutions years ago. I’d be my own idea of walking perfection as far as my habits went, as far as how I think about things, and so on.

If only.

But, no. Life is not that easy, and actually this is in a way a good thing. I read somewhere, I forget where, that life’s challenges are a treasure in a way. Hardships shape us in ways that a life of ease never will, and we are blessed to even be able to experience them. Not that I’d want any more hardships. I could do with some easy living, for a change.

Anyway, getting to the point. Here we are at the cusp of a new year and people are usually doing one of the following:

  1. Churning out resolutions like there is no tomorrow.
  2. Not even thinking to have a resolution.
  3. Purposefully, defiantly, and sometimes snidely rejecting the idea of resolutions. (Rejecting is okay, but why do so snidely?)

I’m usually in camp one. This year, in a way, I’m still in camp one. However, I want to look at this differently.

I will avoid thinking it’s going to work like a light switch. I am tearing out those light switches and installing dimmer switches. I’ll brighten up the good stuff and dim down the dumb stuff.

What this means is that I do have a set of resolutions that I’ve written out for myself, which I am not going to go into right now, and that I won’t expect to get it right immediately. Instead, I’ll watch for slow progress over the year. I started off by envisioning who I’d like to be at the end of 2016 and what I’d need to be able to do in order to get there. Then I made strategies for each goal, and my primary strategy is to accept that I’m probably going to fall a whole bunch of times before I stop falling.

I will fail a lot in the first month, and then each month after that I will hopefully fail less and less.

Maybe I’ll achieve some of my resolutions in 2016, but I won’t expect to achieve them all. Kicking the sweet coffee, as silly as it may seem to some, was a huge success for me. I’m talking about a guy that at one point would drink two frappuchinos in a day. I even got, for my birthday one year, an entire case of 30 bottles of Starbucks frappuchinos. I think I finished the case in 3 or 4 days. Probably 3.

I look forward to seeing what I can do this year, but what about you? Which camp are you in?

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

5 replies on “I left a trail of broken resolutions behind me”

I’m not doing resolutions this year, I’m setting goals instead. To achieve the goals I have to make some changes so the effect is the same. I’m trying to trick myself into some resolution behavior.

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