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Confession: I love rules

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Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee

My entire world consists of guidelines I set for myself.

I’m one of those annoying, smack-the-alarm-button-eight-times-before-getting-up people, yet never get up a minute after 6:30 am.

I religiously drink at least six glasses of water a day, I take out my trash the day before garbage day, and at work, I file reports like nobody’s business.

I stick to the rules. I colour within the lines, always. I’m an organised, anal, child of policy and procedure.

Needless to say I amuse many people with this tendency, but I like it- I’m organised, what can I say?

However, I’m also a fraud.

Theoretically, someone who practically stores her food in alphabetical order should be able to achieve any goals she sets for herself- and should be able to achieve them with little fuss, drama, cries of woe and “Bugger this, it’s too hard.”

This is why I’m a fraud- almost every single goal I aimed for this year, I missed the mark. Mile wide.

I’m willing to bet (un-Monopoly money, even) a lot of people are the same.

Quietly, loudly, determinedly through each year they make pledges, promises to themselves, ones that must be kept or dire consequences will surely soon follow.

And come the end of each year, they look back upon the life they led and realise that quite a few of those promises didn’t come to fruition, at least not in the way they originally planned.

I was guilty of this, come my annual Count the Screw Ups game.

I didn’t “get to New York.” I didn’t “eat better.”

I saw The Family only slightly more often than “Birthdays, Easter and Crisis Negotiations”, and the “Work/ Life balance” evaporated into little more than a myth as soon as all of Auckland came back from the Coromandel.

So come New Year’s Eve, I was getting ready to paint the town a charming shade of burgundy and bemoaning my lack of discipline, my penchant for forgetting the important things in the rush of everyday life, and especially bemoaning the fact that my thighs just aren’t small enough to fit into the pants I’d bought back in January when exercise was a new and exciting contemplation, instead of a dismal and painful reality.

The friend I was with wasn’t impressed.

“Yes, but what did you do this year? And Barbie couldn’t fit into those fricking pants, shut up and wear something else.” gives the following tips on achieving New Year’s Resolutions, based on a study of 3000 men and women working on their annual resolutions:

“Make only one resolution: …The chances of success are greater when people channel their energy into changing just one aspect of their behaviour.”

“Plan ahead…reflect upon on what you really want to achieve.”

“Avoid previous resolutions.”

“Be specific…Vague plans fail”

“Go public… Tell your friends, family and colleagues about your resolution, and ask them to provide you with helpful nudges to assist you in achieving your goal.”

“Set S.M.A.R.T goals- Focus on creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based (SMART).”

“Be persistent- New habits take time to learn, and once in a while you will slip up and revert to the old you…Remember that everyone messes up from time to time. Don’t blame yourself if you falter, or allow the experience to make you give up.”

My problem is number seven on the list- persistence- I make the plan, but when it doesn’t fit into the little life I have going for myself- it slips away.

This year I am employing New Year’s Bludgeoners- I am going to allocate a goal of mine to each of my friends- it’s their responsibility to remind me if I slip- like an AA sponsor, only with more alcohol involved.

But my friend was also right when she asked me what I had achieved this year. I may have been the clichéd “adult daughter”, taken the what-doesn’t-kill-me-makes-me-stronger approach to diet and exercise, and redefined “workaholic”, but I achieved.

I made new friends. I rediscovered old friends.  I got promoted, probably due to the workaholism.

I finally got up the courage to ask for a ‘Sex On The Beach’ drink; a week later I took a bigger risk and got a tattoo.

I lived- I made stupid decisions, I learned from them- I had experiences that changed me for the better.

So, as I was changing into the pants I could fit into, I decided I’d still make the damn Resolutions, but I wasn’t going to feel guilty about taking other opportunities, making other choices, while working towards my goals- as John Lennon said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

That night I went out with my friends, and broke a rule or two.

So, the Very Best of Luck with your Resolutioning- your Rules for Life in 2009.

If you happen to be a Resolutionaholic- if all else fails, remember this:

“There is only one success, to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

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