Resolved: No More New Year’s Resolutions

I gave up on New Year’s resolutions many years ago. I used to promise myself all the usual things: lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier. Sometimes I would get creative and promise to learn a new language or fun skill such as ice-skating or ballroom dancing.

Somehow, though, all the usual excuses would creep in: work was keeping me too busy to exercise, too much traveling prevented healthier eating, I wasn’t coordinated enough, or graceful enough, or committed enough . . .etc. etc. etc. And somehow all the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year seemed less important when I was grappling with the ongoing trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, and just plain ol’ day-in, day-out routine of living.

I tried, really tried, to be a better person, but failed miserably each time.

Then (I think it was 2002), I had a brilliant idea: why not give up resolutions altogether? Why make myself feel like a failure over something that was a self-imposed idea of a “perfect me.” I really wasn’t unhappy with who I was, so why did I feel like I needed to be improved? If New Year’s resolutions were difficult to keep and making me miserable, then why not give them up?

So I did and, not surprisingly, my life didn’t change dramatically. I still wasn’t any thinner or buffer or healthier but I felt better about myself now that the pressure was off. And when I did occasionally make a few attempts at exercising more or choosing a salad over a hamburger and fries, I congratulated myself for doing so rather than beating myself up for all the times I didn’t do it.

Giving up resolutions helped me focus more on all the positive things I was doing rather than all the positive things I could be doing.

But I felt something missing with each successive New Year. I had liked the internal exercise of taking an accounting of one’s actions, behaviors, and attitudes in the past year. So this year, I have decided to re-institute New Year’s Resolutions, not with the idea of improving myself but with the idea of enjoying life more.

To that end, I decided to take a favorite quote as a guiding principle. So, paraphrasing Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, for this New Year of 2009, I herewith resolve:

“Every day to hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.”

To all of you, I wish you much harmony in the New Year! – Sally

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