I vividly remember a team meeting at the start of a new year with one of my very first managers.
"Let's share our New Year's Resolutions!"
It intended to be a team bonding moment. But for me, sent my brain scrambling. As everyone else seemed to have preprogrammed, pre-crafted, perfect answers. I sat toward the end of the table pondering what I could quickly make up. Because I had no resolutions.
Is this the time to proclaim that I would email less? That I would do more 'walking meetings'? Is this the time to proclaim that I would drink less Diet Dr. Pepper? That I would say 'no' more often to projects I was randomly assigned? Probably not the best timing for that last one.
"Eat better, more vegetables… maybe baby carrots?" I mumbled when it was my turn. My manager nodded. She seemed to be sufficiently satisfied and moved on.
I always wondered. Why do we even have New Year's Resolutions? Who started this anxiety provoking tradition?
According to my go to source Wikipedia, Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to Janus, after whom the month of January is named. And finally, in the medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
So I had the Babylonians, the Romans, and the Knights to thank for this tradition of failed attempts at New Year's Resolutions.
One year. A roommate told me to use eye cream. That lasted a month until I lost the tube she gave me.
Another year, a manager gifted us Swell bottles to drink more water. My bottle was a bright zebra pattern; everyone else had more muted colors. I wasn't too sad when I lost that bottle.
The following year, I bought a beautiful journal to be more organized at work. But I couldn't up end reading half of my writing. Went back to taking notes on the laptop.
Just about every year I vow to get back on the treadmill. Needless to say, I now have a rich history of mixed results on that resolution.
Last year, my friend Christy and I each chose a power word to represent the New Year both at work and at home. Her word: determined. My word: focused. Christy became determined about everything and lived the word. And in the end, I seemed unfocused, unclear on almost everything.
Maybe I should just try again this year. A start of the new decade could do the trick. I started to peruse list after list online of "achievable" New Year's Resolutions for living a happier, healthier, Instagram-able life.
And none of them seemed to quite work for me:
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Why do we seem to wait until January to reset, restart, redo? Maybe because we are constantly being sold that the beginning of the new year is the start of something new. When new chapters and new beginnings can happen any day, any time throughout the course of the year.
Back in February, I decided I wanted to join a board. And my friend Cate Luzio asked me to join Luminary's Advisory Board. Back in April, I decided I wanted to start writing again. Luminary introduced me to both SWAAY and FairyGodBoss and I have been fortunate to be a contributing writer for both.
Back in June, I decided it was time to start running again to improve my mental health. And I have been consistently running ever since. Back in September, I decided we needed more of a sense of community. And we have been with intention connecting with more families in Jersey City.
More to do in the next decade, but this is a good start.
And then the longer list of vices, bad habits, self-improvement urges start to creep in. All the things I should just really stop. All of the things that should become 'New Year's Resolutions'.
Why do I drink so much Starbucks. Why do I keep going back to watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Why do I keep saying yes to projects I don't have the band with for. Why do I eat so many Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream Chips. Why do I say I'll give my kids a timeout and never do. Because on some days, I am just too tired to do it and can't get off the couch.
If I flip my perspective, some of these vices, aren't vices at all. I am grateful for the caffeine treat from time to time on my super early mornings. I am grateful for a momentary break from the news cycle, to eat a bowl of chips and to watch if Kourtney will come back to film next season. I am grateful for my comfy couch - and for my kids to resolve their own fights and not be forced to sit in the corner. And I am grateful to be inspired by my work, and have the opportunity to work on a lot of great things. Sounds like the makings of a gratitude list - something that I am currently thinking about doing more consistently.
So please don't ask me about my New Year's Resolutions. Because I have none. And if I find myself watching the Kardashians again, it's okay. I'll just watch this one last episode…


Mita Mallick