Do you view the New Year as a fresh start? Or is it just another day in a continuous loop of your existence? Do you make a big deal of New Year’s Eve? Is it just a convenient excuse to party? Or are you contemplative, philosophical, or spiritual about it? Are you blasé? Disinterested? Unconvinced?
At this time of year, most of us will come across at least one article offering… um, helpful advice for keeping resolutions, yet it seems to me that the very definition of “New Year’s resolution” should be “A promise that a rather naive person makes and then breaks.” I wonder if, instead of giving folks useless advice on how to keep a promise that was meant to be broken from the start, news outlets might try for some truly helpful articles on how to avoid the guilt that inevitably follows?
One article I just now zipped through advised making resolutions more specific, claiming that vague ones are far more easily broken. Isn’t the opposite true? If I resolve, say, to be able to do 100 push-ups by this time next year, I’ll have broken my resolution even if I manage to eke out 99. That’s just a set-up for failure. On the other hand, if I resolve to be able to do more push-ups than I can do now, then anything over, say, one, will be a brilliant success. Now, that’s setting yourself on the path to accomplishment.
But seriously, if you really want to change something in your life, you can’t make a drunken promise on New Year’s Eve and expect it magically to come true. If you really want to exercise on a regular basis, let’s say, enroll in a class that you’re obligated to show up for. Make motivational notes in your calendar throughout the year. Enlist a friend to work out with you (preferably someone who likes to work out, works out regularly, and has no issues with playing the part of an annoying nag). For those truly serious about their self-help resolutions, the U.S. government has a site listing the most popular of these (lose weight, quit smoking…. you’ve got the idea) with links to information to help accomplish your goals. For many, this only serves as further proof that the U.S. government is hopelessly out of touch.
Here’s the truth—the downright dirty truth: Making resolutions for other people is far more satisfying than making them for ourselves. So here is my best advice. If resolutions are part of your New Year’s tradition, if you absolutely insist on making some, you might as well copy these down:
Resolution No. 1. Every one of my resolutions will be designed to improve someone else’s life, rather than my own.
Resolution No. 2. I, [fill in your name here], resolve never to be influenced by stupid, vapid people, including (but not limited to) those who appear on Fox News, and promise never to accept anything as true that I haven’t independently confirmed via reputable sources (which do not include blogs, said Fox News, or anything uttered by Sarah Palin).
Resolution No. 3. In 2014, I promise to give a shit about other people… that can be just one person, but particularly someone I have never before given a shit about. I resolve to do something, anything nice for someone who doesn’t expect it and who actually is in need of someone, anyone, to give a shit about them. In other words, I promise to do something kind for someone who can’t or is unlikely to repay me in any way.
Resolution No. 4. This year, I resolve to regard making changes in my life—changes for the better, changes that affect other people as well as myself—as worthy of effort not just once a year but every, single day.
Happy New Year.