I've never really understood the concept of New Year's Resolutions. I'm not sure that should be a proper noun, but given how much emphasis people seem to put on them, I guess it's important enough to warrant capitalization. I've always made resolutions when the calendar rolls over from December to January, but not because I see the point. Mostly because everyone else does, and I really want to fit in. I guess the whole concept is flawed, because New Year's Resolutions are typically things people should do all year long, without an excuse like a new year to get them going. Easier said than done, I know, but that's beside the point. And most people make the mistake of making resolutions that are unrealistic, or in the very least, lofty goals.
Some real examples I've seen at one time or another:
I resolve to lose 30 pounds by summer.
I resolve to stop cursing.
I resolve to read 10 books this year.
I resolve to stop eating chocolate.
Now, on the surface, those don't appear to be too difficult. If someone worked out vigorously and watched their diet, they could lose 30 pounds in 5 months. They could fairly easily stop cursing. They could read 10 books in a year...I mean, that's less than 1 per month. And they could stop eating chocolate, without much of a problem. The problem with resolutions like these, in most cases, the people making them usually don't have any real expectation of keeping them past Martin Luther King Day or, if they're working really hard, Valentine's Day. Furthermore, people tend to make resolutions that reflect almost the exact opposite of how they've lived for years. The one wanting to lose 30 pounds in 5 months hasn't stepped foot in a gym in years, and loves McDonald's too much. The curser? They use language that would make a sailor blush. The reader? Has been two chapters into A Time to Kill since two weeks after they saw the movie in theaters. And as for eighty-sixing chocolate? They have a Snickers and M&M's within arm's reach at all times.
I realize why people make resolutions...They see flaws in themselves that they want to improve upon. And I'm all for that...I'm the same exact way. But more people would be able to keep their resolutions, and morph those resolutions into new habits, if they just made them more attainable. The one wanting to lose 30 pounds by summer? Why not resolve to lose 10 pounds without a timetable. Once you reach that goal, resolve to lose another 10 pounds. Before you know it, you've lost 30 pounds and you've set up yourself to continue a healthy lifestyle. Sure, it might be August instead of May, but you've still looked better in a bathing suit all summer long, which was the whole point in your resolution to begin with. As for the others? Wean yourself off of cursing gradually...Eliminate them one at a time. The non-reader? Resolve to finish A Time to Kill...Then start a new book and resolve to finish it. Before you know it, you're setting aside time each night to read and you'll reach your goal quicker than you realize. The chocoholic should just resolve to only eat chocolate on special occasions...They're few and far between.
So what makes me such an expert? Well, experience really...I've made irrational New Year's Resolutions more than once, and like so many others, failed miserably. So, despite my disdain for New Year's Resolutions, I've made some myself. And this year, I am determined to keep them. So, instead of outrageous goals I know good and well I won't be able to keep, I'm keeping them simple. 2012 is for winning.
1. Drink 1 or fewer soft drinks every week. I've really been doing well with this one.
2. Lose 20 pounds. Not started yet, but I swear I'm going to.
3. Stop complaining so much...This should be one for everybody.
4. Finish reading A People's History of the United States.
5. Get a teaching job...Might be difficult, but I will not rest until I have one.
6. Marry Adrienne...Might be the easiest one I've ever had.
So, there you have it. Easy enough. 2012 is shaping up to be a great year, and I'm going to stick with my resolutions. I hope you do too, and best wishes in the coming year.