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Start the New Year with A New You, Or Not

My New Year’s Resolution this year is to never make another New Year’s Resolution. And this time I’m sticking to it. I figure, why bother setting myself up for failure when any promise I make to shed a few pounds is usually broken before the Super Bowl playoffs anyway? As soon as I tell myself that I won’t mindlessly munch on as many carbs, I start to fantasize about Mr. Salty Pretzel himself. Likewise, if I make a commitment to be a better parent, I feel even guiltier when I daydream about the laundry instead of paying attention to my daughter’s drawn-out synopsis of gym class.

Still, for those of you who follow tradition to make a resolution or set a personal goal, then more power to you. To improve your chances of success, here’s what the experts advise:

First, be realistic. Don’t bite off more than you can chew (unless it’s a cream-filled donut). Set short-term goals instead of long-term ones. For example, it seems easier to lose one pound a month than 20 pounds in a year. Also, be specific and choose only one or two goals so that you won’t feel overwhelmed and will have a better chance of scratching something off your list. If you aim for the same resolution year after year and don’t get anywhere, accept your thick waistline as a genetic mishap and move onto something else.

Next, write down your resolution(s) and post them on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator so that you can get a daily, visual reminder of what’s important to you. On the same note, tell your spouse or friend or a co-worker about your plans, so that they can offer support or harass you.

Finally, reward yourself for each milestone. Whether you go to a movie, try a new restaurant, or get a massage, you’ll stay motivated to work toward your goal. Even if your focus is to lose weight, it won’t hurt to splurge on a hot fudge sundae once in awhile so that you don’t feel deprived.

So, what does Judaism tell us about our obsession to change ourselves? The early Hassidic sage Rabbi Zusya said, “When I reach the next world, God will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses.’ Instead, he will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?'”

In other words, the best we can do is be the person we were meant to be and not who we are perceived to be in the eyes of others. In order for that deep thought to sink in, I need a bite of cheesecake. Have a happy, healthy and honest-with-yourself New Year!

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.