Are New Year’s resolutions a waste of time?

Right now, while festive celebrations are wrapping up, is a good time to clarify your goals for this year. In a few weeks when the year really gets under way, we will all be wrapped up in the hectic churn of family life and it will be too late to stop and make decisions about how we want 2013 to unfold.

Are New Year's resolutions a waste of time?

Sparklers: New Year’s family fun

When I think about all the projects I have taken on for this year, I begin to feel a sensation of mild panic. Instead of dwelling on it, I have resolved to do one thing every day to advance my goals.

When you are raising children, it’s easy to feel like you are drifting along through this phase of your life without really achieving anything: that you are wasting time. You are just trying to keep up with the nappy changes, the mountains of laundry, and picking up after everyone. But most mothers I know want to get more from this time in their lives than raising children alone, even though they are pouring their hearts into bringing up their wonderful little people. They want to use this time of their lives to do something for themselves: to study, make improvements to their houses, to work outside the home, to volunteer, or to improve their fitness. But the everyday work of being a mother takes up so much time that there is precious little of it to do anything else. When all your time and energy is spent on your family, you feel like you aren’t really achieving anything, and life can feel pointless.

My solution is not to give up on your goals, but to give up on the idea that there will ever be a lot of time to achieve them. I used to think that in the future, when my kids were older, I would find myself with more time to get things done. But then I’ll more than likely be working and I’ll be busier than ever!

I’ve learned to stop looking to the future for a solution to the time warp I’m currently in. If I’m going to get anything done, it has to happen now: in the midst of my crazy-busy life. And in the same way as one would tackle any overwhelming task: bit by bit.

So my motto for 2013 is:

If you do a little bit each day, you really can get a lot done.

Some of the things I am hoping to do each day in 2013 are:

  • Wash a load of laundry- I’ve decided that the only way to get it under control is to have less clothes and wash, hang and fold a load each and every day. If you let it pile up, you just get a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach each time you see a pile of clothes.
  • Clean out my cupboards and finally unpack the last of the boxes from our last move- I’ll never have a whole afternoon to do this–I have kids! So I’ll just work on one area at a time.
  • Learn French- I’ve signed up for a course– gosh, how will I remember all those verb endings on broken sleep! Surely several short bursts of study are more effective than one long session.
  • Work on Zoe at Home- Someone like me really has no time to commit to a blog. But blogging is the ideal ‘bit each day’ activity: short posts filed regularly make for a better blog. I’d love some advice from any readers who have a blog how they manage to have a life and time to blog about it! Please let me know in the comments.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the projects I have taken on, I think the key is to do a little bit of work on them and then stop. Ten minutes spent on any of these tasks could easily turn into an hour…or more. I’ll just reflect with satisfaction that I’ve done a bit and I can pick up the thread tomorrow.

How about you? What are your plans for this year?

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