It’s that time when the self-improvementniks among us resolve to make resolutions. Think about that word: re-solution. A chance to find new ways to do the right thing, and to do things right. A chance to reverse what you did not so well last year. A chance to make amends. A chance to change. A chance not to let bad things happen by chance, to assert your will to achieve, no matter how modest the victory. An effort to learn, and re-learn, from past mistakes.
It’s all, as they say, good. Or is it? Are resolutions really placebos? A form of self-foolery? A lazy cousin of “I think, therefore I am”? “I resolve, therefore I am a better person already!”
Come the dawn of a new year, less than half of Americans (40%) even bother to resolve anything. So reported Dan Diamond in a Jan. 1, 2013 article for Forbes Magazine (http://tinyurl.com/b423z2r). He cited research from the University of Scranton that “just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.” For everyone else, resolve dissolves into a puddle of promise unfulfilled.
If you extrapolate the above stats, among all Americans, 3.2% of us make whole on resolutions. For a proud people who boast of “exceptionalism,” not very exceptional. It’s not even pedestrian. It’s pathetic (this writer included; oh, I make ’em with the best of ’em, and I try hard to keep ’em, and every so often come close, but a resolver’s work is never done.)
Why do some of us bother at all? It’s a feel-good exercise in semi-self-delusion. It’s playing the lottery of personal behavior: Maybe, just maybe, this will be the lucky once in a lunar eclipse that I actually keep a resolution not just one day, one week, one month, one season, but a complete year. Maybe.
For starters, get the luck out of here. Luck, as they say, is the residue of smart planning.
Keeping resolutions are less daunting if they are more commonplace. What are they but glorified goals. As time management mavens advise, setting goals should be done not just annually, but daily. Instead of over-arching resolutions that intimidate, set achievable goals each day that illuminate the path ahead.
If every day brings a resolution, every day may bring a revelation, every day may bring elation. Wouldn’t that be something? Far better, it would be THE thing that lifts our lives to the next level.