I am a goal oriented person (understatement of the year). When I go on a walk or a hike it is always to somewhere. I love to travel but I want an itinerary with way points and destinations. Given all that, it’s not surprising that I am quite fond of New Year’s resolutions. I’m pretty good about sticking with them too. I have found that the resolutions that work best for me are very specific and those that create a good habit (or eliminate a bad one) rather than something that will expire at the end of the year. For example, “Exercise every day” would be a good one; a habit I could keep going after the end of a year, while “Lose 10 pounds” would be a poor resolution as it would be unlikely to change me over the long term.
I realized in mid January this year, however, that my resolutions for the time being needed to be very modest: keeping myself and my family fed, clean, and semi-rested. With school and a lactation internship and occasional paying work it was all I could do not to gain 10 pounds and to keep my house in some semblance of order. That was, however, six months ago. My clinical internship is over and I am officially jobless (save for the “job” of being a mother, of course). The IBCLC exam is in five days. At this point I don’t think studying will matter one way or the other. I have no excuse not to make some new resolutions. I don’t know what this year will bring, hopefully a new job, a decent income, and some clarity about what I want to do with the result of my life. But even given that uncertainty I can exert some modicum of control over my life by deciding, resolving if you will, a few things. I turned 37 this week and so at the start of this new year of my life I resolve:
- No buying desserts. This is a repeat of a resolution from 2014. I did fairly well with it that year and had intended to continue it at the beginning 2015 but I fell off of the wagon into cartons of ice cream and a boxes of See’s candy. I don’t think sugar is the root of all evil, but I also don’t think it would be unfair to say that I do have somewhat of an addiction to it. I also, vainly, want to lose a few pounds and desserts pack a whole lot of calories in a small package. So the rules of this resolution are: if it’s sweet and I want to eat it, I have to make it. Exceptions include birthday requests from the kids (if they want me to buy something special I will) and if we go out to dinner I am allowed to order dessert (something I rarely do, however, because as someone who went to pastry school I am really picky about good desserts and most restaurant desserts are lame). Seriously, the majority of restaurants do not make their desserts in house but order them frozen, thaw them out, and then sell them to you for about 10 times (not an exaggeration) what they paid for them. Now, if someone were to buy me some dessert, say some cashew brittle or scotchmallows from See’s Candy, that would be totally acceptable (and delicious).
- Write creatively at least twice a week, on a schedule. I’ve tried writing focused resolutions before but I’ve never been able to get them to stick. I tried writing every day but I have to admit that just isn’t going to happen. Once a week doesn’t seem like enough so I settled on twice a week. I think that the key to success is going to be that I am setting two specific, two hour blocks of time and sticking with them. I am going to disconnect myself from the internet, perhaps even leave the house and go to the library or a coffee shop, and do nothing buy write.
- Reduce our discretionary spending. Plain and simple: we are living right at the edge of our means. For most of our marriage our income well exceeded our expenditures. But now, with me not working and two kids in private school we basically break even. I feel very uncomfortable living on the financial edge. I also realize regardless of my career change there will probably come a point thirty or so years from now that I do not wish to or am unable to work – at least full-time. We need to be saving something for our future and it’s pretty scary that we aren’t. Most of our expenses are fixed in stone and as cheap as they can possibly go (pretty sure I am not going to find a better 30 year fixed mortgage rate than 3.125%!), so that leaves consumable type items (food, clothing, gas, toiletries etc.) as our only place to save money. I grew up without much money. We never went hungry, but it felt like we always had less than those around us and I continually heard from my mother “We can’t afford it.” I vowed that I wouldn’t have to live that way as an adult but here I am. I least I know what to do.
- Give lactation consulting a real chance as a career. I do not like being unemployed. I hate not earning money and the loss of independence and financial worries that going along with it. This year has been a daily struggle for me to stick with lactation consulting not to go out and just get a job. The truth is, I’ve applied for a few jobs, and even gone on a couple of interviews – but not for lactation related work. Every time I come home from one of these interviews I need to consciously turn away from the aspects of those jobs that I do crave (travel, income, authority) and remember that they negatives of those jobs (spending my day chained to a computer, long hours and commutes, subject matter than I am not really passionate about, working on abstract problems rather than concrete ones) outweigh the positives. I need to stop doing this to myself and commit to giving lactation a real try and giving myself one to get a job. This is going to require a lot of deep breathing and I am sure there will be some near panic attacks but I want this to work and in order for that to happen I have to give it time.
I think this is my most difficult, but most important, set of resolutions yet.