There’s something so seductive about the New Year’s resolution. It’s a moment like no other, when the clock ticking forward signifies one year comes to a close and another begins anew. There is the temptation to resolve that this year is going to be different, that this is the year that I start eating healthy, lose 20 pounds, start volunteering, or finally get control over my drinking.
Like many people, I have goals for 2011 – one might even call them resolutions. I want to go into the office more (rather than give in to the daily temptation of staying in my pajamas and working from my couch). I want to meditate more, specifically in the morning, when not only is it more restorative but also more likely to happen at all. And I hope to keep previous resolutions – worry less, do more yoga, eat fewer peanut butter Puffins.
Yet, I am resistant to the idea of making change just because some external thing – a date in this case – tells me it’s time. It’s out of keeping with my basic belief (and hope) that change can happen at any moment. That it can be a slight shift that becomes meaningful over time.
If you are a lifelong walker yet you long to run, each step represents an opportunity. If you are in the middle of a box of cookies, but you want to lose 20 pounds, each bite is an occasion to change course. If the right time for you to make a change is slightly less momentous than 1/1/11, I say go for it.
I chose August 18, 2010 to make a significant change in my life. As the self-proclaimed Bargain Bitch, I’d often comb the racks at Filene’s Basement, Marshall’s, or (swoon) Barney’s and wind up with many beautiful, originally expensive, yet often-unwearable clothes in my closet. Clothes that I clearly would not have purchased at full price but which, at a discount, gave me a rush and a break from my troubles. My bargain hunting was fairly consistent throughout the year, peaking during sales and any time I was feeling stressed, depressed, or restless. Ultimately, I realized my innocent bargain hunting had assumed a new role – that left vacant when I stopped drinking.
My shopping habits even resembled my previous drinking habits. Whereas I used to be really into Sauvignon Blancs, black flats might become my new obsession. Whereas I’d chain drink until a bottle of wine was empty, I would exhaust the style options of a particular blue jean company. Or if I’d scored a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress at Saks Off Fifth Avenue, I might hunt down a DVF chaser on eBay.
Not long after I realized I was shopping much like I drank, I was very fortunate to discover The Great American Apparel Diet, which invites those of us with a penchant for sartorial acquisition to abstain from all purchases for 1 year. I joined TGAAD when I was in the middle of a stressful home sale and am now more than a third of the way through my one-year commitment. Removing the possibility of blowing off steam by shopping during a period of great uncertainty was challenging to say the least…but certainly not impossible. And beginning my resolution in the middle of the year relieved some of the additional pressure I might have felt and imparted a certain one-day-at-a-time forgiveness.
During the last four months, when I wasn’t shopping, I’ve used my valuable time to go deeper into my meditation practice, cultivate important relationships with those in my life, and finally stop talking about it and start this blog.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!