“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.”
The above passage by Mark Twain sums up what most of already know about New Year’s Resolutions: they basically blow.
Looking back at my blog circa January 2004, I found this somewhat depressing excerpt:
this year is going to be all about making productive choices in my life. i’m going to SERIOUSLY look for a job. i’m not going to smoke no matter how stressed out or drunk or lonely i am. i’m not going to binge drink. i’m going to excercise and eat good food and master thin crust pizza. and i’m also going to continue to try not to talk shit about (or tease or belittle) other people.
What’s wrong with this picture? The paragraph is essentially a laundry list of all the things I procrastinated doing the year before. Furthermore, most of those resolutions are in response to something negative: smoking too much, drinking too much, loneliness?! The only item with an ounce of merit is the thing about thin crust pizza, which I still haven’t mastered, almost 4 years later.
Here’s what history has taught me about resolutions, New Year’s or otherwise:
- They enable procrastination
- They set me up for failure
- They make me feel worse, which is stupid, because I set them to feel better
- Resolutions in response to something negative – be it smoking, drinking, eating or working – never work
- Resolutions are always challenging, no matter what day of the year they start
Here is the last negative resolution I’m ever going to make: to abandon New Year’s Resolutions forever.
Instead, I will only engage in what I affectionately term the No Year’s Resolution:
Here’s the idea: Make positive changes now instead of putting them off for some arbitrary date in the future. A couple rules:
- The moment I “set” a resolution, that resolution starts that very instant
- Set only positive goals
- Deprive myself of nothing
Here’s the goal: to radically enjoy The Holiday Season rather than simply survive it. Then step into the completely arbitrary “new year” having done something I feel good about.
Who’s with me?
The above is the last of my negative commentary on resolutions (you already know why they suck). Instead, stay tuned for some hopefully useful tips on taking action and setting positive goals for a season that has a lot to offer, like friends and pie. I also want to feature people who are taking a similar approach to the season, so if you know of anyone, please let me know!
Tim has already blogged about resolving to go for a walk today. Here are some resolutions I’ve made
- Enjoy sparkling water with Ginger cordial at work – and accept that this small amount of unprocessed sugar is tastier and far better for my health than diet pop
- Prioritize my morning swim – Aim to go 3 times a week before work, planning my schedule every Sunday to accomodate evenings out (especially ones that tend to be rather late and merry)
- Be 100% vegan at home – this just feels good, dammit
- Be booze-free at home – and enjoy a drink or two when I go out with my friends (ok, maybe 3 drinks)