Every year I make resolutions that are challenging (obtain PhD in Genetics from MIT), if not nearly impossible given my time constraints (run a marathon on every continent and in all 50 US states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico). Sometimes it takes me all year to do these things (teach the dog to write and speak Latin) and I find myself panicking in December that I might not get them done (start my own cable television network). So this year I am lowering the bar.
There is nothing I find more satisfying than making a list and then checking things off. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, evidence that I am moving forward in life, getting things done. However, the list can also be a source of angst. Currently I have two items on my general household to-do list that have been there since last spring, maybe longer. It drives me crazy. These are mundane things, not goals, just tasks. I could erase them and pretend they never existed, but they are both things that need doing. For 2011 I vow not to make to-do lists that include things that I may not get to.
So in pondering what would make good resolutions I decided to turn to my children. My resolutions are not going to revolve around them (train daughter to be the first 8 year old astronaut) or even us as a family (develop a musical act that wins American Idol). Instead I am going to draw from their experiences of what clearly are challenges. These are things they should be doing, but can't quite manage to accomplish. With my additional years of experience I am certain I can get them done. In fact, I am even going to include some *reach resolutions* for extra credit. So here is my list:
1. Brush teeth, twice, every day.
*reach resolution = not smear toothpaste all over the sink in the process, and if I do, clean it up.
2. Brush hair, every day.
* reach resolution = including the back, even though I can't see it so it must not be there.
3. Keep my face clean of food, dirt and paint.
4. Close the door behind me when I go in or out of the house.
5. Do not drop my coat, hat, shoes, backpack directly in front of the door when I come home.
*reach resolution = hang them up or put them in the bin that is one foot away.
After creating this list of resolutions I feel fairly confident I can achieve them successfully. Already I feel the burden of accomplishment lifting from my shoulders. I realize that this means I have to push some things out into 2012 (discover intelligent life on other planets, perform on Broadway) but I figure it is a small price to pay for this year of no pressure. Another added benefit is how it may help my whole family. Perhaps by setting an example for my children they will realize that if you work hard, keep your nose to the grindstone and dream big, anything is possible.