Making a New Year’s Resolution? Don’t!

This article was first published inJust One Opinion
in 2008. We reprint it here, as it still represents our philosophy. Happy New Year!


This year, Claire and I will dance our fool hearts out to the great swing tunes of sixty years ago, and we’ll dance into the new year.
New Year’s Day, we will do what we have done each of the New Year’s Days of our relationship: we’ll do one of our several favorite forms of exercise, probably bicycle, eat one of our (healthy) favorite foods, take a nap, and enjoy the pleasures of married life, not necessarily in that order. We used to take a dip in the cold ocean, but that doesn’t work too well here in Arizona. Our tradition is to start the New Year off together doing the things we look forward to doing all the coming year. It is for us, a long and honored tradition.

It’s good to have traditions for the New Year, but not all traditions are positive. One I have done without for many years is to make a New Year’s resolution. Here’s why:

You will break it. Sad to say, nearly all New Year’s resolutions are broken, probably within a few weeks to a couple of months of their making. Oh, the motivation is pure. Say, you really, really resolve to lose that ten pounds you gained over the holidays, not to mention the three to five pounds that crept up on you over the year, like they have each year since you passed twenty-five. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it happens to the purest among us. It’s just the natural aging process, our wealthy society, our holiday binging philosophy, and just plain human nature.

The New Years resolution dilemma has one big weak link. Everyone makes resolutions at the same time each year, and when one weak soul breaks their resolution, we break ours in commiseration, because: 1. We are so compassionate. 2. We’re just waiting for an excuse to break our own resolution. I go with number two. Regardless, we all end up breaking all our resolutions and becoming each other’s co-dependents. Now we’re worse off than if we hadn’t made a resolution in the first place; no improvement and several new co-dependent relationships. Bad. Bad.

I propose the following approach to resolutions: Make resolutions; just don’t make them at the New Year. Any time of year is fine, just not the New Year.

Resolutions are best achieved when they are: realistic, backed by research, shared with a very few, and followed up with daily thought and action. Now all this is not so hard as it might appear.

Realistic: means 20 pounds over two months, not 20 pounds before the dance next week.

Backed by research: means you learn all you can about where you can cut unnecessary calories from your diet, and know exactly how many hours a week of what kind of exercise will take to reach your goal.

Share with a very few: means to share with your significant other, and at most a small group of supportive friends; don’t share with anyone who might want you to fail out of jealousy.

Take daily thought and action toward your goal: this is both the most difficult part of the equation, and the most productive. Make a chart for food intake and exercise hours, and keep it current. This is not a torture. This is a motivation.

Now you are set for achieving your goal; just wait until everyone has broken his or her New Years resolutions, and then you’ll be free of pressure and can concentrate on actually achieving yours.

Then comes the sweet part. You can brag.

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