We’re ankle deep in January and for some reason I haven’t heard much about New Year’s resolutions. Usually by this time, I’ve heard about diets, exercise, yoga, guitar lessons and improved church attendance just to name a few. But this year, it’s almost like everything is being kept secret.
And I think keeping such resolutions secret is a good thing. That way, at the end of the first two weeks, you don’t have to come up with excuses.
I’ve always had two approaches to these resolutions. First, only resolve those things that you know without a doubt that you can accomplish. I’ve always resolved not to go skydiving, not to volunteer for a dunking booth and never to be in a male beauty pageant. I have a 100 percent success rate on those.
Another approach is to not announce any resolutions. Just ignore the question. Then at the end of the year think about some things that you did accomplish and declare in retrospect that those were your resolutions.
For example, in 2010 I lost 20 pounds, dropped my waist size by 3 inches and learned to build a fire by rubbing sticks together. I had no idea in January that I would do this. And while I think that goal setting has its place, the bottom line is that something good eventually happened. So I declared at the end of the year that those were my resolutions in the very beginning.
And I didn’t invent that kind of rationale. I just factored it to work for me. For instance, our government gets us into a war and decides later why we’re there. If the most powerful government in the world can do that, then why can’t I? I just hope I continue to do a better job with my personal spending than does the government with out national spending.
Now when I said something “good happened,” the weight thing speaks for itself. The thing about building a fire by rubbing sticks together is just “something.” I really don’t expect our economy to worsen to the point that I would actually have to apply this skill on a regular basis. But, China hasn’t called in all its markers yet, so my skill could help me keep my cave warm.
Typically, the gym is full of new people the first week of the year. And after about two weeks, it trims down to the regular guys. I call these first two weeks an “incubation” period. When many people realize that “if it don’t hurt, it don’t work,” they go back to the couch and the remote.
As I’ve said before, in the large overview, New Year’s resolutions are about as valuable as a warm bucket of spit. If you’re going to do something, Jan. 1 is not a magic number. If your ambition has merit and you have the spit and vinegar to pull it off, Nov. 4 or Aug. 12 are equally valid dates to start.
Now, I realize there are exceptions to my assessment. I do know a few people who’ve actually approached January with a strategic plan and made that plan work. In other words, they didn’t decide to invade a foreign country to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction and having found none decided the goal all along was to spread democracy. And I still don’t understand why we aren’t trying to spread “republicanism” because I am routinely reminded by my critics that the U.S. is not a “democracy” but a “republic.” But then so was Russia and North Vietnam. Semantics are funny, aren’t they? ... unless you have to do the dying part.
Therefore, next Dec. 31 I’m going to announce what my resolutions were for 2011. I’m reasonably confident I will have held to my resolves about not taking up skydiving or bungee jumping and not learning to make fruitcake.
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.