• Jill Yesko

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going for you?

Updated: Jul 27

I have wondered how mine are going myself. Since the onset of the COVID Crisis, I have decided that I am getting a second chance at my goals for the year, essentially requesting a “do-over” from the universe and getting a whole new year altogether.


If March 1 became the new January 1, I would say that my resolutions have changed completely. Have yours?


In October of 2019, I began doing HIIT workouts watching online instructors and getting back to running, and lost 10 lbs over the course of 2 months. AMAZING! I also changed my diet in the late fall and increased my protein, lowered my carbs, and ate more calories than I was used to. I hired a coach to help me get started, and he did a terrific job. I was all set to have my resolution simply be maintenance of my new healthy routines. That was enough right? Another 10 lbs was sure to come off in the winter, the way I was going! All the circles were closing on my Apple Watch every day. I was doing this!


January came and I started out the year doing exactly what I had been doing in December, and despite a trip to New York City before Christmas that was filled with great food and terrific wine, I maintained my weight loss. The hotel had a great gym, and we walked everywhere. However, early on in January, I got a cold and felt horrible, so I took a week off. That’s ok! We all get sick (and no, it wasn’t the flu! It wasn’t the COVID-19!).


Later in the month, we went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to ski for a week. Two days of travel, five days of skiing and adventuring! We ate delicious southwestern food, drank terrific cocktails, and perused museums, like The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I gently slipped back into my routine when I returned, but catching up at work took more time than I had imagined, so I gave myself a pass.

In February, we went to Park City Utah for a week, so Paul could attend a conference. We skied, we ate, and we skied some more. I snowboarded, fell a lot (it had been two years since I had last snowboarded) so I got lots of Hot Chocolate and beer as a reward for hitting every single one of my body parts on the snow and ice. We celebrated Valentine’s Day out there too, with a lovely dinner.


When I got back to Pittsburgh, I stepped on my fancy Weight Watchers scale. I had gained 5 pounds back.


Some of you reading this might think that five pounds is no big deal, but I am 5 feet tall and 50 years old. Let’s put it this way: When I became pregnant with my first child, 26 years ago, I had a significant baby bump at 6 weeks. I could NOT hide my pregnancy at work at 8 weeks in and had to tell my boss.


Tips for resolution backsliding:


  1. Acknowledge that it happens to even the most sincere people.

  2. Forgive yourself for slipping (not failing, just slipping).

  3. Break your big goal down into smaller, or even different goals that you can actually achieve sooner than later.

  4. Journal, document, record your progress, even if it is slower than you would like.

  5. Prioritize and revise your goals, if you need to, based on your own needs and situation.

  6. Repeat the above, and keep going.


I put my running gear back on, and off I went. I ate my normal healthy food, and worked out again. 2 pounds down. Good job, Jill! I packed for my trip to Houston, to attend the NSA Conference. It was great! I used the hotel gym, twice, and went running on the flat streets surrounding the hotel. The virus had begun to spread slowly in the U.S., and I, along with other professional speakers at the conference started to get emails canceling their upcoming speaking engagements. The sound crew that had worked at the conference we're getting messages that they did not need to show up for the next 3 gigs but they had scheduled that week on the West Coast. People were shaking their heads, but I had to pack for my next conference, which was luckily still in the same city just 40 minutes away.


When I arrived at the next hotel, for the NASMM Conference, I saw a dear colleague who I had not seen in a year. She backed off a little, and she smiled guardedly, asking, “are we hugging?” I was dumbfounded. Why wouldn't we be hugging? Where had I been? People at the conference hotel would greet each other and start rubbing elbows calling it the “covid-Bump”. I didn’t have time to socialize anyway, since I had to prepare for my upcoming 6 hour pre-conference presentation that I was giving to 60 attendees the next day. My father had just gone into the hospital in his hometown of St. Louis, and when I called him to ask him what the hell was going on, he sounded confused and told me he was “failing”. His wife Mary came on the line, and said he had gotten dizzy, and had fallen in the bathroom earlier that day. I hung up, feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. I went running along the Woodlands waterway, putting in the requisite four miles I needed to clear my head.

I gave the presentation the next day, and at each of the breaks, I checked in with my father’s wife, who told me that he seemed to be more confused and disoriented than he had when they got to the hospital. I finished my presentation at 5 and went up to change and prepare for our expo hall session, where we had a booth. As soon as I had gotten settled at the booth, I got a text message from Mary that changed my life. “Can you call me?”, she asked. I stepped out, shaking a little. I found a quiet place and dialed her cell. She calmly said, “he had a stroke today, and has a brain bleed. You should come.” And she started to cry. I have never seen or heard Mary cry in 32 years. I told her I would come on the next plane, and I did.


The next two weeks were spent at first by his bedside, then having his funeral (Family only! No gatherings!). I came back to Pittsburgh to be greeted with a mandate from our governor that I was to close my office by that evening at 8 pm or I would be cited. Wait, what? By 8 pm? It’s 6 pm!! Gather the computers, get the mail forwarded! Tell the team! Set up satellite work stations at people’s houses! Do we have a Zoom account? Do we have Clorox wipes? Why didn’t I finish placing that order for 100 N95 masks to ULine in February?!

So you see, my big attempt to have a New Year’s Resolution was trumped by the world shifting and prioritizing my goals for me. My whole focus had now become to save my company. As much as I would love to look great in a bikini on a surfboard this summer, I needed to take care of more pressing matters first. There was not even time to emotionally regroup. There was only time to act. I tried running (Was my trail still open? Would I get arrested for this activity?), which helped relieve some of my immediate stress, but when I realized that even that hour that I took every day to go do that was an

hour that I could have been focusing on helping the business to stay afloat. So I began to sacrifice that too. When I had to actually find, then wear, a mask just to walk my dogs outside and to check my mail in my apartment building I lost the desire to want to even leave the apartment at all. I taught 7 webinars (5 free, 2 paid), attended 2 WBENC webinars, had staff meetings via Zoom, and had administrative meetings everyday with our team on the phone. I applied for the loans as soon as the links became available. Since the websites were glitchy, I had to apply several times, then found out that all the documents (that we had prepared ahead of time) weren’t fully uploaded despite my proof to the contrary. I was denied PPP assistance because of website glitches and an exhaustion of the funds while they were fixing the glitches and reviewing my half-uploaded information. While all of this was going on, I had also called my employment lawyer, became emotional with my non-emotional accountant, and furloughed 80% of my workforce. I did get the right to be an essential business because of our work with seniors and people with hoarding disorder, which was a plus. (Non-useful, since hardly anyone can actually hire us right now, but still a plus.)


Yes, I have a therapist. Yes, she does tele-sessions with me. And yes, I have a new resolution for my new “year”. I will simply take really good care of myself right now. That’s enough, right?


Jill Yesko is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Discover Organizing, an organizing and Senior Move Management firm in Pittsburgh.


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