Resolutions or Ruts ?

I always used to be big on resolutions. And invariably, my resolve was quick to fade. Until finally, I got tired of failing and decided to reconfigure the way that I looked at this New Year thing, this ‘tabula rasa’ that hits us every year.

First of all, my first question was who made up this artificial deadline anyway? That January 1st is the very best day in the entire year to start something new?

Go figure.

Here we are coming out of the holidays often stretched to our limits financially, belts needing loosening (thank goodness -or not- for yoga pants!), the kids, work schedules are driving us crazy, and we are just ready for things to get back to ‘normal’.

And out of all this, I stand here and am supposed to somehow pull it all together.

Address the ruts – rather than make resolutions.

We all get stuck in places and situations we’re not happy with. Period. And we put up with it.

And it’s OK most of the time when it’s a yearly cocktail party or at your child’s recital, but what do you do when a good portion of your time and perhaps, your life, is spent in less than optimal conditions?

Is spent in an often unintentional rut?

And yes, most of the time it is unintentional, I mean, “Who wants to purposefully get stuck in a rut”?!

Start Paying Attention.

Well, for those of you who have followed me, you probably already know my advice on avoiding ruts . . . paying attention (the major pre-requisite for practicing gratitude).

 Don’t let things slide.

Actively giving your life and your actions some thought.

Your thoughts and actions do not go unnoticed and the accumulated effect of your decisions do have a direct impact on your life.

So by paying attention to what you are doing, questioning your decisions, investigating all the choices you have (when you can!), you provide yourself an excellent opportunity to make good decisions; something I think, we all would like to do.

Aw, shucks, It won’t happen to me.

One of the major issues and often the culprit when making those decisions that often get us into ruts in the first place, is that we don’t really think the things we hear about, will happen to us.

The earnest advice from family and friends “Oh, that’s not the best work environment, you are going to hate it”, perhaps should be considered.

Their words may carry some truth and a small decision today, may become a life changing decision in the future.

Decisions . . . Decisions.

For instance, maybe you know that a recent move to another state is the best thing you can do, but you also know that any good from the move (that you see now), will dissipate within a couple years.

Good to know.

Going into this situation rut free means that you will set everything up for a 2 year stay – no more.

But this move may also take you into a state that you absolutely love, with people you can’t live without, and this becomes your new home – forever! Wonderful – a fully *organic change of plans!

OR those two years slip into 5 and 10, and you wake up one morning and ask, “What happened”?!

We have all had our “what happened” moments. Where time just seems to fly by and memories are fleeting. I have never liked the feeling of time going by and me not paying attention.

And paying attention to ruts, paying attention to old ways of doing things that can be modified, tweaked and either incorporated into my life in a bigger and better way or not, has taken the place of any New Year’s resolutions.

Don’t turn a trail into a rut!

So now when January 1st comes around you will find me checking my ruts. In the spirit of Edith Wharton, the 1921 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Literature for “The Age of Innocence”.

“Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.”   Well done, Miss Edith!

Resolutions are great, when they are seen as positive choices in moving forward. Self-improvement, which is really what is at the foundation of most resolutions, is a good thing.

But, if you are just not in the habit of keeping resolutions, maybe you’ll give another way of looking at things a try and check out your ruts.

I would love to hear from you, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, or private message me. at !

Meet you in the trenches!

Until next time,

Karen Schaal / Gratitude Gal with Positive Online Psychology

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