This year, I am working on new resolutions each month and am using Gretchen Rubin's monthly resolution system to create and track behaviors that I hope will increase my overall happiness.
March came on so fast that I am just now getting time to reflect on my February resolutions and share what I am working on for this month.
For February, I had four resolutions in the area of relationships. The first two resolutions targeted my interactions with Jason: have more positive greetings and goodbyes (kiss in the morning, kiss at night and Give warm greetings and farewells) and make the positive argument about my spouse. This month, I did not use the chart to track my resolutions, but I found that simply being mindful of my goals enabled me to define my intentions in my marriage and act accordingly.
Jason and I worked together on the first resolution to have better greetings and we agree that it has brought a positive change, starting each day on a more pleasant and harmonious note and also ensuring that the first thing that happens when I get home from work is not me griping about something relatively unimportant. Instead, I focus on how grateful I am to be home with my loving spouse and pets. Also, oddly, Jason and I have never really said or kissed good night as part of our bedtime routine and adding that little step did bring us closer by giving another opportunity to show gratitude toward each other. Overall this resolution was a small change with lasting impact.
The second resolution, to make the positive argument when I am mad at Jason, well, let's just say I'm still working on that and will be probably forever. It is hard not to assume the worst when you are angry or frustrated and just let the frustration carry you away on a satisfying gripefest. But anger is not a productive emotion; As Stuart Smalley would say, "that's just stinkin' thinkin!" and it is much better to instead focus on the many positive things your partner does for you. Although I am not directly focusing on this goal any longer, I will still keep it in mind as my intention. Managing anger is an ongoing challenge, I think, for many people.
I feel very successful in my goal to spend more time with family and friends. In February I started my hiking group, and we have had two awesome outings so far. In February we hiked in Wilder Ranch, and just yesterday we had an amazing adventure in Nisene Marks, which I will post about soon. Additionally, I did meet my goal of seeing my parents each week, either on our monthly hike or another outing. And Erin and I managed to keep our Saturday running date; yesterday was our sixth week in a row and we are getting ready to sign up for some Spring races!
Without my resolutions, I don't think any of this would have happened. Both commitments are WAY outside of my traditional comfort zone. I have felt for years that I needed to connect more with the loved ones in my life. Now that I am actively working on that goal, I find myself convinced that relationships are the key to happiness. I feel so much better after spending time with friends and family. I now know what I was missing in my life by putting up self-imposed barriers such as fear, anxiety, and self-criticism that prohibited me from taking risks with my personal relationships. Without risk, there can be no reward. My social calendar is fuller than ever before, and I have never been more excited about it!
For March, my focus area is work. It is no secret to those who know me that, while I adore my current job, it involves a 2 hour (total) daily commute. I am currently looking for a teaching job for next year in the town where I live, in hopes of eliminating my commute and more deeply integrating my work and community life. All of my resolutions for this month focus on the tasks necessary for such a change. The best window of opportunity for teaching jobs is from the beginning of March to the beginning of June, so the race is on! I will offer more details as it is appropriate to do so, and maybe by April when it is time to reflect on March resolutions I will have some concrete news about the transition to share!
In closing let me point out that, while I am focusing on these areas of my life in apparent isolation from other hopes, goals, and dreams, that is not the case. I have discovered that by examining how each element of my life is functioning an focusing on improving it, I more clearly see how it relates to everything else. Each goal connects with and fuels another. My February resolutions, for example, allowed me to strengthen my relationships with my spouse, parents, and friends. In turn, these connections, this network of support, has given me the encouragement the take the necessary risk involved in my March resolution... changing jobs. I have been at my current site for 8 years, and changing is terrifying. I could not do it without the help and support of others. So as one area of my life grows and blossoms, the positive energy flows and allows the next transformation to occur.
I can't wait to see what Spring will bring!