Fellow Caregivers! It’s 2024. All the holiday festivities are over and we’re getting back to our normal routines. It’s a few weeks into the new year, so I must ask…are you sticking to your New Year’s resolution, or has it fallen by the wayside already?
I’m happy to report that I’m sticking to my resolution but, in the spirit of full disclosure, my resolution is to not make resolutions! Honestly, it’s the only resolution that’s stuck with me.
I’ve tried and tried over the years to make resolutions. I've made all sorts of promises to myself – to lose weight, exercise more, give up bad habits, be more present, do more for others, volunteer, paint that room in the house I’ve been meaning to paint, organize my closets, organize my life, and on and on and on. Each New Year’s Eve, I tell myself, “This is the year” and by February, I’m thinking…maybe next year???
For me, resolutions became synonymous with failure, and I found I was really getting down on myself for not having the gumption to stick to them. It took several years to figure out I was sabotaging myself. I knew on December 31st I wasn’t going to paint that room and I sure wasn’t going to organize my closets. They’re things that I intend to do sometime, but making it a hard and fast you-have-to-do-this-or-else thing was just too overwhelming.
Although intention is a synonym for resolution, their meanings are worlds apart. An intention is defined as “a thing intended; an aim or plan.” Resolution’s definition is “a firm decision to do or not do something.” Intention has more “wiggle room” than a resolution and sits a little easier with me. It allows me to reset my goals (my intentions) as often as I need to, not just at the beginning of a new year. Intentions are gentler, and more forgiving.
So how do we incorporate that into caregiving? First off, let’s all try to be like intentions – gentler and more forgiving. “To whom,” you ask?? Of course, to the one you care for, but also to yourself. Always remember that you are the only one in control of your actions and your actions set the tone of the day.
Keeping that in mind, here are some ideas for possible intentions for caregivers:
I intend to do the best job I can as a caregiver.
I plan to be more patient in my work, with my loved one, and with myself.
My loved one and I will laugh more, cry less, and… laugh even more.
I will celebrate my loved one’s successes.
I will try, try, try to keep anger and frustration out of my words and actions.
I’m going to celebrate my successes, no matter how small, and will try hard to learn from my mistakes.
Best of luck in the New Year!