Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Say You Want a Resolution

We've made the word "resolution" a scapegoat. We project our failures onto it, blame it for our unrealistic expectations, and curse it rather than ourselves. Nevertheless, year after year, December 31 rolls around, and we come up with new resolutions or resuscitate old ones.

Could we craft a better recipe for disappointment?

Unless we set attainable goals, we doom ourselves to failure, and by "attainable" I mean doable despite our responsibilities, real or perceived talents, and a mere twenty-four hours in a day.

Sadly, we'll have to scratch "Win an Emmy" and "Serve on City Council" from our to-do lists since we don't control anyone's vote but our own. We're free, however, to write a script we think is Emmy-worthy. We can run for City Council.

Rather than swear to lose twenty pounds in 2012, we'll promise ourselves to eat mindfully and swap fruit for cake and cookies. Instead of vowing to complete a marathon in less than four hours, we'll vow to train consistently so we stand a chance of crossing the finish line.

We can't control our popularity, but we can strive to be a good friend. We can't guarantee our kids will turn into responsible adults, but we can model grown-up behavior.

These tips are so obvious, it probably sounds as if I'm talking down to you. In fact, I'm talking to myself. Year after year, I make New Year's promises that qualify as wishes on stars rather than attainable-by-me resolutions. When will I learn?

Every year arrives ripe with promise. In 2012, I'm going to work harder at the things I can do: finish one manuscript and start another; walk in the park almost every day; be a better friend. (Anne Roberts, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I went underground between Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

What will you do in 2012?


Lark Howard said...

Realistic resolutions? What a great idea! :-) You're right that resolutions have to be about something we can control or we're doomed to fail. Mine?

1. Take off this last 3 lbs and keep it off all year. (Keeping it off is where I tend to slide.)

2. Write every day.

3. Finish my re-write/revision by March 15th.

4. Make the effort to see friends more regularly. (We need to have dinner one evening soon, Pat!)

I'm sure there will be others before Jan 1. Thanks for prodding me to think about these!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

What's the word for someone who reads another person's resolutions and wants to adopt them? Suggestible? That's me. I want to add your resolutions to my list, Lark, except, sigh, I have to lose more than three pounds.

Lynette M Burrows said...

Are you sure we only have 24 hours in a day?

Realistic resolutions are so difficult for me. I tend to bite off way more than I can chew, but I'm working on it.

Thanks for the reminder! Happy New Year!