Streaky Mirror New Year

A few weeks ago I went on a completely compulsive cleaning binge; not one inch of the house was spared. I mopped floors, I washed dishes, I dusted dressers, I scrubbed toilets, all of it, and once I finished, I sat down on the couch and let out a long, satisfied sigh.

Later when I went to shower off the week’s worth of dust and dinge, I noticed the horrifically streaked bathroom mirror that hung above my sparkling clean counters.

How could I have missed this?

For a moment I considered stomping back downstairs to grab the Windex, but I was already exhausted so I just wet some toilet paper, wiped down the mirror, and smiled at myself in its newly clean surface.

Over the last week or so, there has been a lot of talk about a “deep cleaning” going on around the world, though for the most part it’s a completely different kind. With the new year finally ringing in, people everywhere are promising this and swearing that, so they might find themselves in better physical and emotional shape for the coming days. “New year, new me,” they say.

My sister and I often type up our resolutions on her typewriter. Each December we set it out on the table and add ideas as they come, enjoying their artsy and permanent look on the paper. This year however, I had a little trouble. Every time I sat down hoping to bring the typewriter to life, I drew a blank and walked away feeling discouraged.

A few days ago however, after reading this blog post titled, Set Goals, Not Resolutions, I felt a wave of inspiration. The author points out that a resolution is a promise to do an act of self-improvement, while a goal is an objective a person intends to achieve. In other words, a resolution would be to “exercise more” while a goal would be to “go to the gym 3 times a week.”

As I read through the post, I thought of my compulsive cleaning binge and my crystal clear mirror.  That night, after I had showered off the dust and gotten dressed to go to dinner, I noticed that my mirror was once again streaked, almost worse than before I had cleaned it. I shouldn’t have been surprised; I’d chosen a quick fix solution so I’d gotten a quick fix result. This is what we do when we make resolutions. With nothing but vague promises thrusting us into the new year, we are left without a plan of how to keep them, and often lack a complete understanding of what we’re actually looking to do.

I will be the first one to admit that the end of December always shows me the streaks I’ve collected throughout the past year. As I try to see myself and reflect on how to move forward, my vision is always clouded by the disappointments and the obvious improvements to be made. But as I welcome the new year and the unmatched inspiration it provides, I can’t keep looking for the quick fixes. If I really want to work towards achieving the goals I’ve set for myself, I’m just going to have to take those extra trips down the stairs for the Windex and start scrubbing.

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