To many of us, a new year signifies a new start. We decide that, when the new year arrives, we will eat in a more healthful manner, exercise more, stand up to family members, friends or co-workers who are treating us disrespectfully, stop swearing, be a better spouse or parent and, of course, be a better caregiver. And we sometimes do these things, for at least a day. Well, a few hours, maybe.
Then, we mess up. This is the danger point. As soon as we fudge a bit on one of our resolutions, we tend to dump the whole project. The first post that I wrote for 2010 on OurAlzheimers.com, was titled A Fresh New Year is Approaching: Smudge It Early and You'll Save Some Stress. Because I know that I'm very poor about keeping certain resolutions, and I know many people who feel they, too, are not good at following through on their resolve, I'm guessing that a number of you reading this have the same problem.
Therefore, today, I'm reminding you that you aren't alone. Today, the last day of the year, I'm reminding you that you are not the only one who not only didn't perfectly finish your "self-improvement list," but that you are likely not the only one who failed to complete one single thing on the list.
That's why I'm not a fan of making myself lists that I feel must be kept. I make "loose lists," or I'll forget to do important things. But I keep them loose and flexible. Yes, I have deadlines for work. I have personal deadlines about things that are important to me. However, even with those lists, I try to give myself some room to move about within the structure.
Constraints and "must do" commands don't fit well with my feeling that life is fluid and changes with every moment. We gain new perspective with each step we take forward (or backward). We are different people today than we were yesterday. If that is true, and I believe it to be true for most of us if we continue growing as people, then the fact that we didn't check off each item on a list of suggested things to do for ourselves or others is, well, just fine. It may even mean that we took the initiative to make our own decision to not follow the list.
Whatever reason you may have for not completing the goals on a list you personally made and vowed to follow, or one that you read that you thought may offer you some good ideas, just remember that it's okay that you gave it up.
We learn by growing. We often grow by failing. The idea that it's not how often we fall down, but how often we get up has been credited to many people, so it's certainly nothing original coming from me. However, as a person who has spent decades in the trenches of caregiving, and a person who knows many others who've done the same, I'm telling you this. You are fine if you failed to "improve" yourself. As long as you aren't abusing yourself or another person, you are doing okay.
If you fell down this year, when it came to your goals, then fine. You did. Get up and try again. Keep your new goals fluid. Look back at your so called "failures" and see if you really did fail. If you did fall short of your goals, but you got up and tried again, then you succeeded. My guess is that you succeeded far more than you know.
Give yourself a break and end the year on a high note. You did your best. You did fine. Congratulations! The best to you and your loved ones during 2011. Just keep that "best" in a manageable, fluid place in your mind or on your list.
Published On: December 30, 2010