I Resolve to… Not Make Resolutions

The start of the new year always brings a flurry of introspection and long lists of well meaning resolutions. We all start thinking about that 5 pounds (okay, maybe a little more than 5 pounds) that we want to lose, eating healthier, going to the gym more, and on and on…

Honestly, I hate resolutions! I can’t stand it when I don’t have the time or money to fulfill them, and then I’m just filled with shame and self-loathing. What’s the point of that!?

About two years ago, I resolved to simply stop making resolutions. Instead I think of the new year as an opportunity to refocus my life on what’s really important to me and on my goals. I embraced this Henry David Thoreau quote:

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all of the marrow of life.
To put to rest all that was not life,
And not when I came to die,
Discover that I had not lived.”

You see I had this moment where I caught sight of myself in the mirror – I mean really saw myself. I was stunned by how much gray hair I had accumulated.

In a moment standing there looking at my reflection, I felt as if my life was passing me by. How did I get to be this old? The average life expectancy is 74.6 years. That means my life is almost half over. I hadn’t achieved any of the great goals I had set for myself in my younger years. I’d never been to Italy, or learned to play guitar, or any number of other things on my “bucket list.”

And it broke my heart.

I knew that something needed to change. I needed to change. And I needed to do it now, before it was too late. I did not want to come to die only to discover that I had not lived.

I wanted the chance to refocus my life, with hope and possibility, and the chance to finally follow my dreams.
There were no small obstacles in my way – mostly of my own making.

First of all, I completely lacked confidence. If you had asked me two years ago what I was good at, I would have said, “Well, I can make good cookies, and I know the lyrics to all the Wiggles songs.”

But that felt so inadequate, and well worthless. Doubting my skills and my talents meant that I doubted myself – my very worth. I knew that needed to change.

I needed to chant to myself, “I am confident. I am confident.” And I needed to believe it.

I’ve been dreaming of going to culinary school to become a pastry chef for YEARS now, so being good at making cookies, pastries and desserts is a really good thing. And I’m not just good, I’m great at it. It’s been a long time since I wanted something this badly. I’m determined to have my Chef’s jacket, and in a few years, it will say Chef Matlock on it.

And while I highly doubt I’ll land my dream job for knowing all the hand motions to the Wiggly Hula, it is symbolic of all the time and energy I have put into raising my children. My children who are happy, healthy, successful, well-adjusted children. I am a great mom!

I needed to stop doubting myself – to stop seeing and focusing on my faults and short comings and grab onto the things I do well, to see and believe that I am a strong, smart and capable woman.

And now, after repeating that mantra to myself a few thousand times, I truly believe it. I am confident. At least most days… Nobody’s perfect!

As momentarily alarming as it was, I’m glad I caught sight of that old woman in the mirror. I’m glad that reflection scared me enough to change.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression, tomorrow is a new day. It’s not true.

It’s today. Today is a new day. Now I know what I plan to do with mine. The question is what will you do with yours?

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  1. 1

    Amazing post! Probably a lot of people now are having those kinds of insights because my sister told me something very similar when we were doing the new things at the end of the year (you’ll see when I finally get to post! ) Today is all we have, the rest is an illusion.

  2. 2

    So very well said, Jen. It’s never to late to make a change. I know one other thing you’re great at — building a great blog! And although I usually do shy away from resolutions, too, I think you had an epiphany instead. Here’s to Chef Matlock! See you in Italy!

  3. 3

    I so agree about resolutions. You really did a lot of thinking and reflecting in this post. The message is so spot on… live for today… no one is guaranteed tomorrow. If we all lived like that, people would be much kinder to one another. :) Lovely photos.

  4. 5

    My favorite book of all time is Walden by Thoreau. I don’t make resolutions either….the idea of one makes me crazy. I am all for living life to it’s fullest and feeling fulfilled as an individual. I’m a great mom and some days that is good enough and some days I feel like I want more than to be just “mom”. Although raising well adjusted, happy, healthy children is certainly a full time job and has it’s own rewards. I don’t know any wiggles songs or dances but I can sing all the Yo Gabba Gabba songs and I dance really silly to make Henry laugh and pray that my neighbors are not seeing me through the living room window. :) I wish you the best of luck on your journey in getting your chefs jacket. You can’t put a price on achieving your dreams.

  5. 6

    Well said! I never made resolutions what ever life I have lived . I try to live in present and learn from mistakes of my own and others experiences. Happy New year!

  6. 7

    I don’t make New Years resolutions either :)

  7. 8

    The new year is a great opportunity to just reevaluate life! Great post, Jen! I love all of these sailboat pics. I married into a family of sailors; my in-laws have a sailboat and I’m sure we will in the next few years. It’s such an amazing art and craft!

  8. 9

    I love the way you think. You’re realistic but optimistic. I hope you achieve everything you want to! New Year’s resolutions are silly; do what you want right now!

  9. 10

    I like your outlook. Great post!

  10. 11

    Jen this is an amazing post – BRAVO! ….and you know what? YOU ARE GREAT!

  11. 12

    What a lovely post–I’ve had some of the same realizations over the last couple of years. It’s never too late to do these things (particularly since it sounds like you are a little younger than I am). It’s only been in the last three years that I have learned how to take a vacation more than three days long.

  12. 13

    Jen, what a wonderful post! You write so beautifully…and your thoughts echo many of mine!!! You have accomplished SO much and I know more fabulous things waiting for you to tackle. You go, girlfriend!!! xo

  13. 14

    Jen, this is a great post! I’m so glad that you came around to know that you have had a good life thus far and that you are a fabulous mom and strong, capable woman! Take it from someone a couple years away from her 6th decade, be proud and happy of what you have done and don’t fret over those things that you haven’t done. I’ve never made a bucket list and never plan to. I love spontaneity and taking chances, and so far that attitude has been good for me. So what am I going to do with my day tomorrow? I’ll know when it comes. :) Hope you are having a fabulous day!

  14. 15

    I soooo feel you on the gray hair situation. I also have 3 and it seems these last few years, they are closing in on me. Great blog! :-)

  15. 16

    Such honest statements. Just the fact that you are a GREAT mom is everything. You are already living your dream just being able to say you are raising healthy well-adjusted children who one day will have a mommy chef in the house. (they already do, though).

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