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New Year's Resolutions To Resolve Or Not To Resolve

Updated on September 1, 2012

Thoughts on New Year's Resolutions

I actually was going to spoof making New Year's resolutions by coming up with my own insane version of what my New Year's resolutions were going to be. However, on watching an interview in Times Square on New Year's Eve on CNN, a lady stepped up to the microphone and stole my lines!

In truth, when asked what her New Year's resolutions were going to be and she answered 'turn into an alcoholic, start smoking, and gain as much weight as I possibly can', it somehow didn't seem quite so funny as it had in my head, so I started to think about it. I came to the following conclusions. (I should retract that and say that she only said the part about smoking and gaining weight - I had the addition of becoming an alcoholic in MY list of spoofs along with letting my body go to heck in a handbasket and treating family and friends worse!)


Top 10 Resolutions Made

Not in any particular order, the top 10 New Year's resolutions most often made include the following:

  • I will get more organized¬†
  • I will help others more
  • I will enjoy life more
  • I will lose weight
  • I will quit smoking
  • I will give my friends and family more consideration and/or time
  • I will stop drinking
  • I will get into shape
  • I will get out of debt
  • I will learn something new and different

Statistics show that of all the resolutions made, there is a less than a 50% chance that anyone will be successful in keeping these resolutions. So why do we make them?

There are many theories and I think that is what finally got my mind around to thinking that making resolutions was not a totally bad idea. ANY attempt at self-improvement should be applauded. Psychologists have a lot of terms about why people succeed and why people fail, such as self-efficacy rates, etc., etc. on ad nauseum, which I take to mean that depending on your specific personality and what you term controllable or uncontrollable behavior, you can or will not succeed.

That seems to have some weight behind it because I do believe the mind is our most powerful tool in the arsenal of what we bring to our battle if you will or our jaunt through life. Everyone has their own level of comfort when it comes to change and everyone seems to have a different interpretation of what 'happiness' or 'success' means to them. Operating from that premise, we all have things in our lives that we feel 'control us' or that we think WE can control. Different strokes for different folks and all that mumbo-jumbo.

The heady conclusion that I did come to, however, was that again, any steps that we take towards self-improvement or making our world (and thus affecting those around us) a better place should be applauded. I am of a personality that I am constantly reevaluating myself and constantly trying to make improvements. That is a tedious process as I seem to be the overachiever deluxe version! It is quite tiring at times and I got to thinking that perhaps just trying to analyze myself once a year might not be such a bad idea!

I also think you have to espouse the theory that AA promotes - one day at a time. In order for anyone to bring about changes in themselves (which truly is the only thing you CAN change), you have to be wise enough to realize that we are only human and that failure is sometimes an option. Despite our very best efforts to make a change, sometimes it is a matter of 2 steps forward, 1 step back. The important thing is a positive attitude and starting each day over as if it were the FIRST day.

On discarding my humorous musings on New Year's resolutions, I did decide that in every life, there is always room for improvement and in my case, maybe looking at not so much the bigger picture, something as 'global' as enjoying life more, it would be better for me personally to narrow that down to something that I've always wanted to do. Picking out one specific hobby or pleasure that I would like to give myself and learning how to do it, taking the time to enjoy it maybe would make more sense than something as ambiguous as 'enjoying life more'. I already enjoy life - it is far better than the alternative after all! For an overachiever such as myself, however, being more specific seems like a good solution.

I am all for setting goals and trying to get further ahead in life. Again, to different folks, that will mean totally different things - but I think the key here is to stay focused on details, the things that are tangible that you actually CAN change or fix relatively simply and then moving on to the next detail. For example, perhaps focusing on only ONE area of your life that you want to reduce the cost or debt factor in makes more sense than perhaps over-simplifying and saying 'getting out of debt'. In this economy, that might be overwhelming at the moment.

Try to keep in mind that statistic about the less than 50% success rate in keeping the resolutions that you make at ANY time in your life - for the new year or in general. Keep it real - make sure that the 50 pound weight loss you think you can accomplish is actually something you are willing to commit to. Or would a 5 pound weight loss be more realistic THIS WEEK, this month? See how it goes. Some people set themselves up for failure in my humble opinion because they think too far ahead. While it is essential to have goals and destinies in life, sometimes focusing on just that day or that week seems not quite so overwhelming.

Helping others or spending more time with family and friends might be as simple as mending a riff with a family member or a friend, or trying to see a different perspective on them or your interactions. I don't think any of us is capable of solving all the world's problems or I would personally have solved world peace by now!  (I'm still working on it and it is on my to-do list)

I always chuckle because it seems every single year, without fail, everyone I know is bemoaning the fact that they are SO GLAD that the last year is over with - 'it was one hell of a many bad things happened.' Funny how every year it seems to be the same. How could we have had so many bad years? I tend to be a perky kind of person, however, and the glass is usually half full rather than half empty for me.  While I can admit that some of the last year's things were pretty crappy and pretty devastating on some levels, I tend to look at what went right and hopefully create more of those moments in the next year rather than what is behind me. Because after all, it IS behind me and there was nothing I could do to prevent any of it so why dwell on it?

At any rate, I think introspection is a great tool - if you use it for good and not evil. We are all after all in charge of only ourselves when it comes to change. Anything and everything we do in life to become better has to be a good thing because it spreads to the world around us hopefully - even if we don't see it or we are not aware of it. Even if we don't get the kudos we think we deserve for being better people, I think the reward comes to us by other ways - be it karma or just life turns.

And if we find that we run out of resolutions to make or we get tired of trying to better ourselves, I say go out and think of some for people in the news - how THEY could improve themselves. It won't matter a hill of beans - but at least it will give you a good chuckle or 10.

Happy New Year - and may peace and contentment with yourself be your best present for the year!

Great Song For Resolutions


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