By the end of this month, the vast majority of Americans who made resolutions for the New Year will abandon them, according to a popular news source—the one that reports and lets you decide. They even pinpointed January 12th as the exact day that this vast majority will most likely give up. Eighty percent will give up at some point in the year, and only eight percent will achieve their goals. I’m not sure what happened to the other twelve percent.
I made some loose resolutions, and some tighter ones, too. One trick they mentioned in the article was to have someone to support you through the changes. Other suggestions were as follows: Make it measurable. Know exactly why you want to make the change. Make a plan to reward yourself when you achieve the goal.
Check, check, check and check. My most important goal meets all four criteria, and my support is Gail. She actually made the same resolution. We are holding each other accountable. Suzanne–while she is younger in years–is infinitely wiser and more evolved than her older sisters in many ways. She doesn’t need to work on this trouble spot that her older sisters struggle with.
My Mark-of-all-trades husband is at it again. Just short of 21 years ago, he finished building our house. He worked tirelessly evenings and weekends for about 18 months. While he built the house, I built the first baby. Even though it took me only half as long, I will argue I had the harder job. He doesn’t disagree.
He is embarking on a massive re-do of the living room. New walls and new flooring. This is big stuff. He has been itching to do it for some time, and now that the holidays are behind us, he dug in.
If you know him, you can skip this next paragraph. If you don’t, trust me when I say he is an expert builder. He typically loves to have a project going at all times, something measurable and goal-worthy to strive for. A shed addition and a new patio are but a few of his most recently completed projects. Not much short of absolute perfection passes his inspection, which is a favorable quality to have in the contractor/builder in charge of your home.
As a word nerd, I am always up for learning a new word. Several months ago, when he announced his choice of wall covering as shiplap, I didn’t know what it meant. Gail informed me that if I didn’t know what shiplap was, then I must not be watching enough home-improvement television. I don’t really watch any.
Shiplap: a style of wooden wall siding characterized by long planks, normally painted white, that are mounted horizontally with a slight gap between them in a manner that evokes exterior shiplap walls. Typically used as exterior cover, it is also used indoors for a rough or rustic look.
As a proud future owner of shiplapped walls, I decided I’d better look it up. I hadn’t heard this one before. I always have room for new words.
It has shaken up our living area, the space we enjoy every morning for coffee, the space we sit with company, the space we simply live in.
The changes will be good, but they are a bit uncomfortable right now, as changes are. I have to make a new map of where and how I need to navigate and make it work in my home in my mind, and I really would rather not have to.
But I have to. Just like I have to make the interior remodeling I committed to with Gail. She is holding me accountable, and I am doing the same for her. We are re-arranging certain habits in order to build new ones, even though we are quite comfortable in the old ones. In with a new design. We simply know it is time for new; we have worn out the old one and it no longer serves us as well as the new one will—just like the new carpet and new walls will serve us in our living room.
Mark built a literal plank that he will walk as he creates the new design. He will construct scaffolding on this plank that will allow him to climb and create.
His initial plan was to challenge me to walk the plank as well, as this plank would have been the only entrance to our third floor, where our master bedroom and bathroom are. I would first climb the ladder, then walk the plank. Good thing I’m not afraid of heights. Just heights at 36,000 feet inside an airplane, which I have already admitted to. However, given his considerate nature, he devised a way to pull back the last two sections of the plank to open up the stairway, which he can easily do when he finishes for the day.
I can stretch to accommodate this inconvenience.
However, I did need to go upstairs while he was working, so I braved it.
As I have been continually attempting to do, I filtered out a few possessions today. As a condition of the remodel, everything had to be cleared off the shelves and tables and any other surfaces in our living room. I packed them in boxes and totes, but I started a box for a friend who is starting over, the same friend I wrote about several weeks ago who is doing a complete remodel of her life. She will need new things, new stuff that is not part of her old life. Like me, she delights in garage-sale treasures, so she is thrilled to have cast-offs. One woman’s treasure, I hope. I wouldn’t give them to just anyone, but if these semi-prized possessions are going to her, I can let go.
I picked up this treasure, and knew immediately that I couldn’t part with it.
If you are in “The Club,” perhaps you know that seeing a cardinal is a sign that a loved one you have lost is with you at that moment. Several years ago, another dear friend who had also lost both parents told me she found a cardinal in her garage. In her garage. It was her mother’s birthday. Shortly after she told me that story, I found two of these cardinals on sale together, and I knew she needed one, and I needed the other. So we each have one.
She sent me a picture of hers, perched on her mantle.
About ten minutes after I moved the cardinal to its temporary storage spot in the tote, I went into the garage for something. There, in my garage, was a cardinal.
The contractor has been non-committal in giving me a time frame; perhaps he doesn’t want me holding him to it. It will take at least a week or two, I’m sure, as he will be working on it when he is not at work. I will continue to navigate and function around the inconveniences, because I know there is something better coming out of it. Plus, I really don’t have a choice. When he is hell-bent on a project, he is full-steam ahead. For that, I am grateful.
I don’t ever make honey-do lists. He makes them for me. I am grateful for that, too.
When these changes are completed, our house won’t look any different on the outside. The inside, however, will be refreshed and renewed.
When Gail and I complete our changes, we likely won’t look any different on the outside, either. Our insides, however, will be refreshed and renewed. It’s a bit messy and inconvenient while we are remodeling our insides, but we are hell-bent on our goals, just like Mark is on our house.
When I have made positive changes in the past, one of the most important things that helped me was someone to support me. As well as support, I need accountability. Most humans—myself included—reach goals better when someone else is helping them—pushing them, driving them, if necessary—to make this change. It is too easy to be accountable only to oneself, so having someone to answer to helps most people.
If you need help reaching your goals, find an accountability buddy. I hope you have a Gail in your life; I know how lucky I am to have one in mine. She is holding me to the fire, and I am doing the same for her.
I rushed back into the house to get my phone right after I found the cardinal to get a picture; I was afraid he would fly out. He ended up flying back and forth in the rafters for at least four hours before he was finally gone. I opened both doors, and left the walk-in door open—that’s how he got in. I wanted him to find his way out, but I didn’t know how to help him. I was glad for his presence; for his sign, but I knew he needed to be back on his way. He didn’t belong in my garage, and he didn’t belong close to me for long. He needed to go back to where he flew in from, because staying near me was too confining for him. I enjoyed his presence, don’t get me wrong, but I knew he had somewhere better to be.
It has taken me a long time to fully accept this truth about losing a loved one. I believe they have somewhere better to be, and I am so happy they are there.
It bears mentioning that our high school mascot was the cardinal.
If you set a goal or goals for the new year, I hope you are among the eight percent, not the eighty percent. Or, the nebulous twelve percent.
Go get yourself a Gail for your goals. You can’t lose.