December 31st, 2003

New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year to you, dear reader.

My friend Dave used to send ’round an e-mail at this time each year detailing his New Year’s Resolutions. There were usually around 10 of them, and they were generally a hoot. Unfortunately, he and his family are preparing to move to Ohio from Wisconsin this weekend, so I doubt we’ll be seeing that list any time soon.

The cliché about NYR(esolutions) is that no one keeps them. I’m no different. Dave certainly doesn’t keep his – but who could, really? They’re generally of the fantastic persuasion, hardly achievable by mortal man. The people who need to keep a NYR are the people least likely to keep them. Conversely, those least in need of making a sweeping change for their betterment are the ones most able to keep them. Therein lies the dilemma: how to switch from one type to the other?

“Set easy-to-achieve goals” is one bit of advice you hear a lot. See, Dave ought to set as one of his NYRs that he is “going to move to Ohio” according to that bit of advice.

“Have a partner help you throughout the year” is another. But what if your partner is lousy at keeping them, too? In fact, chances are good that they are. And if they are good at it, their constant hounding of you will drive you crazy and could ultimately cause a rift in that partnership.

“Set weekly goals rather than year-long ones.” Like, I will watch 4 episodes of Seinfeld this week. I will attempt to feed the cats on a daily basis this week. I will not go out in public without clothing this week.

“Set measurable goals, not indistinct ones.” From the previous paragraph: “attempt to feed the cats” is not specific enough. “Marking off a checklist when I’ve thought about feeding the cats” is better because you can look back on the week and see how many times you almost fed the cats. (Of course I’m being ridiculous – no cat in the world will let you go longer than 4 hours without feeding them.)

So there’s conventional wisdom. Unconventional wisdom used to say “set goals that are the opposite of the goals you really want – that way when you fail, you’ll actually be successful!” It used to be unconventional wisdom, but we’ve heard it so many times from TV, comics, movies, etc. that it’s passed into the mundane and can no longer be considered “out there.”

My advice to you? Look back on the year you just lived through. What did you like? Do more of that. What did you hate? Do less of that. Be helpful to others – at the very least, don’t be a hindrance to them. Respect others. Try to leave the house at least once a day for other than work-related issues. Obey the rules in a given situation. Limit your intake of harmful things to one a week. Let those you love know you love them. Plan for your future. Don’t forget the past – it made you what you are today and can guide you to your future. Eat your favorite meal at least once a month. Try new things. Recognize that each day could be your last.


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