A couple of days ago I was in a liquor store marveling at the sheer number of pinot noir wines that appear to be named in homage to Stephen King. I was organizing a mini photo-shoot (as one does) when a sales associate approached me.
“Hi, can I help you find anything?”
“Oh, no. I’m fine! I was just admiring the labels.”
“Well sure: the designs, the names. For instance, do you know I’ve found three wines without even trying that all relate to Stephen King?”
“I’m figuring out the best way to arrange them for a picture.”
I get this a lot.
You could tell this wasn’t anything like a response he was expecting, so he smiled uncertainly and wandered off, surreptitiously watching from behind a giant floor display as I rearranged bottles and took photos from bizarre angles. Once he saw I was finished, he walked back over.
“So, how’s it going?”
“Meh, really? We’re like two days into the new year.”
“I know, but I already broke my resolution.”
“Good for you.”
“Good for you! I mean, you don’t want to get to day 340 and then break it, right? That would suck. Get it out of the way early, that’s what I say.”
“I’ve never looked at it like that before, thanks!”
Now I have no idea what resolution he’d broken. Maybe he ate a Snickers bar for breakfast. Maybe he sacrificed an elderly chinchilla to an ancient deity. I have to hope it wasn’t anything too serious, but it did get me thinking about the whole resolution thing.
2. THERE IS NO TRY.*
*I added this part but it should totally be in there.
Now I’m not saying I disagree with the concept of resolutions in general. It’s good to set goals and to challenge ourselves to change or modify behaviors. It just seems like many people choose to welcome the new year by deciding to do things so differently that they set themselves up for failure.
And really, is failure a festive way to start a whole new year?
I was only partially joking when I said that he was lucky to have broken his resolution so early on. I mean, it really WOULD suck to break a resolution 340 days in, right?
But even better – to me – would be modifying resolutions so they aren’t in a make-it or break-it format. Maybe they’re in a “challenging yourself to be better, to do better, to make incremental changes without setting the bar so high that you instantly fail and then give up” format, instead (only with a shorter name).
So in this particular scenario there IS a try. Sorry, Yoda.
I realize that this is just crazy talk, but WE CAN MAKE RESOLUTIONS AT ANY TIME DURING THE YEAR. We don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day. If you need a specific date, what about your birthday? What about the first day of spring? What about a day that you get together with a few friends to talk about what you’d like to change, and then working together to support each other instead of relying on societal reminders for the first two weeks of January followed by universal amnesia: “Resolution? What resolution? Can’t you see I’m too busy binge watching ‘Sherlock’ while drinking a selection of Stephen King wines?”
I realize that resolutions work for some people, and to those people I say WHY ARE YOU READING THIS INSTEAD OF WORKING ON YOUR RESOLUTIONS? GOGOGOGOGOGO! Hahahaha, you wacky resolution people! Seriously, though, I say congratulations if it works for you. But for many others, resolutions turn into a giant vortex of guilt and failure. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty much exactly the opposite of how I’d like to start a new year. (Side note: Vortex of Guilt and Failure is my new death metal band name.)
I propose the following:
- Resolve to set reasonable goals. By “reasonable” I don’t mean super-easy (“Brushed my teeth AGAIN! FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. SUCK IT, 2016!”). I mean set goals and then create a plan for how to achieve them, don’t just rely on the whims of a benevolent universe to guide you through the rough spots.
- Resolve to be okay with messing up. Instead of beating yourself up for breaking a resolution or abandoning it entirely, think about why it happened and how you can prevent it from happening again. Then get back in there. You’ve got this.
- Resolve to modify resolutions as needed. Look, maybe learning to play the didgeridoo seemed like the greatest goal EVER at 4am on January 1st, but while trying to secure one on eBay you realized that what you REALLY want is to learn to play guitar. You can change your mind. Crazy, right?!
- Resolve to set goals throughout the year instead of waiting for that one magical day. To quote another favorite Star Wars character: IT’S A TRAP. You wait for that one special date to start and in the meantime do what? What was that? NOTHING? Does that make any sense? Why not start now?
I know, I know. For many of you, this is obvious advice. But for others I hope it’s the pep talk they need to start the new year right. It’s the pep talk I need to start the new year right.
Just as soon as I finish binge-watching “Sherlock,” accompanied by a nice glass of Pennywise.