I’ve never been one to stick with a New Year’s resolution. Whether it’s a lack of discipline or the inability to follow through, I’ve been like so many Americans whose good intentions peter out a few weeks into January.
As we embark upon the last bit of December, one might think that I’m wracking my brain to discover the next pledge I won’t keep; however, for the first time, I’m celebrating my ability to maintain a resolution throughout the entire year.
My vow for 2010 wasn’t altruistic in nature; it had absolutely nothing to do with regular exercise or losing weight; and in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty insignificant. I pledged not to drink coffee – after noon. Cutting coffee completely would have been a futile endeavor; however by trimming back the timeframe I allowed myself the pleasure, I hoped to tame my rampant caffeine addiction.
In college, it was not unusual for my roommates to head to bed at 11 pm, when I would brew an entire pot of coffee, sipping each savory cup until my studying was finished at 2 or 3 am. My affinity for coffee had been thoroughly reinforced in the seven years I’ve worked at the Pulse. It’s a regular occurrence for someone to look up from their computer and announce, “I’m going to get coffee. Does anyone want some?”
My first true test of this resolution came at about 12:45 pm on New Year’s Day. I had taken the dip into Lake Michigan for the Polar Bear Plunge, and throughout the teeth-chattering ride back to my apartment all I could imagine was a hot shower. When I got home, my landlord was waiting with the news, “Your hot water heater is broken.” My immediate reaction: total and utter disbelief. The shock was followed mere seconds later with the desire for a piping-hot cup of coffee to warm myself from the inside out. I resisted the urge, instead bundling up in 12 layers.
Overcoming that first extreme encounter encouraged me that I could last through January. As February rolled into March, I remained steadfast, squelching the mid-afternoon cravings. But as March flew into April and the Pulse transitioned into our new home, my stress level rose. I found myself cheating – sort of. I’d allow myself the occasional cup of coffee after noon, but I’d be sure to choose decaf, maintaining at least the intent of my resolution.
With that intent still intact – no matter how trivial reigning in my coffee consumption may seem – the past year has taught me a few things. First, we are never too old or too ingrained in our ways to change. The attitude with which we approach a problem is paramount in helping us through the struggle, and good intentions get us nowhere without a bit of creativity and flexibility. I also know, gratefully, that I have the determination it takes to keep a resolution. Oh yeah, and if I’m going to ring in 2011 with the Polar Bear Plunge, I should be sure to have some decaf coffee at home, just in case!