The Playroom: Rethinking resolutions

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

Ultimately I decided not to do New Year’s resolutions. They were always the same, which made them, by definition, redundant. When I worked in London that’s the term they used when they fired someone. But the point of all this isn’t about getting laid off in Britain, it’s about all that resolving to do stuff I never did.

At some point I got tired of saying I was going to the gym more, I was going to take my vitamins, lose some weight and stop spending so much time standing in front of an open refrigerator door wondering why I opened it in the first place.

So I just stopped. Why resolve to do this or resolve to do that? No need to set goals that went absolutely nowhere. All that did was fuel my already low enough, thank you, self-esteem and make me feel worse about myself than I already did. So I fired New Year’s resolutions, made the redundant redundant.

Then, in my infinite middle-age wisdom, I decided that since I was no longer setting goals I should just manage expectations. I was not getting up early to exercise, I wasn’t going to change my ways, turn over any new leaf. So I should just be happy with who I am.

The problem with all that is last year I didn’t accomplish anything. I mean really, I did nothing I can write down, expand on, brag about or share with friends. As my friends lost weight, redecorated the front room, took up golf, searched for new careers, set out to change the world, had another baby, cut coupons and slashed grocery bills, I did nothing. I didn’t even make Christmas cookies this year.

So I am beginning to think that maybe it’s time to re-integrate some goal-setting into my life. But setting goals is scary. It’s so much easier to be complacent, to accept who I am. So much easier to take more ibuprofen, because I’m not doing my exercises.

But the problem is this.

I’m actually happier when I exercise and eat more vegetables, drink my water and walk the dogs twice a day. For some strange, goofy reason I can’t quite figure out, the more I put into my health, my life, my personal self, the more I seem to enjoy being me. Funny that.

So I think this year I will try again. But this time I’ll temper everything just a bit, so it’s a variation on the theme and not entirely redundant. I’ll make easier goals and I’ll post a note on the back of the kitchen cabinet with some “easy goals.”

I’ll try once more to believe in myself a little bit more, maybe even turn toward a higher power for some intervention and support, burn some incense, light some candles, strike a yoga pose and breathe deeply seeking that inner strength.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Now why did I open this door in the first place?

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at