As 2014 unfolds before me, the blank days of its calendar inviting me to fill them up with dates and obligations, I feel the pull that so many of us do at this time of year: to make resolutions, to come up with ideas for how to make this year better than the last. I spent hours last month making lists and plans, considering what to cut out of my diet and what to add and wondering whether this should be the year that I try barre classes. Or Zumba. I contemplated waking up an hour earlier to write in the quiet of the dark before dawn. I thought about staying up later.
But here’s the thing: I already know what works for me. I already know what I’m doing on the days and weeks when I’m in my groove, when hours of contentment outnumber hours of melancholy. Somewhere in the chaos of the last few years, through the crucibles of pregnancy and breastfeeding and mothering very young children, I figured out who I am and what I need.
I need to get up in the morning early enough to wash my face and get dressed before I start my day with my kids. I need to eat breakfast. I need to exercise (run or practice yoga) early in the day before I lose my motivation. I need to write in the mornings while I’m focused and save research and social media work for later in the day. I often need to take a 10-15 minute cat nap in the afternoon. I need to put my laptop away not long after my kids go to sleep so that I can spend time with my husband in a house free from the sounds of Lego towers crashing. I need to get into bed by 10, TMJ mouth guard safely inserted, read for an hour, and turn my light out by 11.
It’s not sexy or exciting (it involves mouth guards for goodness’ sake!). Indeed, it’s a routine and routine, by definition, doesn’t have that anticipatory tingle of a new resolution or a new plan. But keeping up a routine – doing what I know works – is a lot harder for me than keeping an eye out for the new new thing. That’s not to say that occasional tweaks and vacations from routine aren’t often beneficial. They absolutely are. But I have to remind myself not to be so easily seduced by the new when the tried-and-true works just fine.
So maybe that’s my new year’s resolution: do what I already know works. Don’t worry about reinventing the wheel when, if I make sure to keep it turning, the wheel I’ve already got gets me exactly where I need to go.
Do you have a routine that works for you? Have you made any new year’s resolutions for 2014?