Another Perspective

I Resolve …

What's wrong with folks who don't make resolutions?

By 12.28.06

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People who don't make New Year's resolutions worry me. Are they perfect? Are they simply waiting for the great up escalator to descend from the sky? Are they biding their time until Barack Hussein Obama delivers us from this red-blue valley of tears and into that promised and purple land of prosperity and plenty? Or are they simply lazy?

Notice I said make, not keep, resolutions. The former is easier than the latter. Motivational experts have some suggestions to make and keep resolutions.

The goal should be achievable. This would rule out vowing to complete the Boston marathon for someone whose only well-traveled path is through the plush carpet to the fridge and back again to the recliner, and whose only success in cutting calories comes when he eventually tires of the trip and rests his weary noggin on his multiple chins.

The goal should be significant. This doesn't mean it has to be earth-shaking. It wouldn't be wise to resolve, "I shall not only visualize whirled peas, but also I shall achieve it." The fact that the goal-setter has no fleet of strategic bombers at his command puts his desire to achieve world peace out of reach. Naturally, this ties into achievability.

As for significant, this means the resolution should be something beyond, say, "I shall soap my left arm before my right arm in the shower." While the goal should be something reachable, it shouldn't be too easy. The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset divided humanity into two groups: "those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves."

In other words, it might be too easy for a buoy whose favorite fruit is hops to resolve that his motto for the Year of Our Lord 2007 will be "Beer me PDQ!" He's already floating in that direction. Or for the office grouch to consider that perhaps he's been too soft on his co-workers and their faults in the past year and to remedy this.

Lastly, a goal should be measurable. Vague resolutions won't cut it. "I'm going to be a better person." Now, of course, this is nifty idea, but it needs to be quantified and scored. Think of it as a contest. Better: "When driving and I happen upon a less than skilled motorist, I'll refrain from questioning the honor of his mother or the legitimacy of his birth." The success and failure can be tracked on a weekly or even daily basis.

What about "I want to stop eating so much"? For the horizontally challenged, this would be a healthy resolution, but again still too vague. Better: "I'll stop treating Cheez Whiz as a beverage." The intake of processed cheese in a semi-liquid state can be monitored.

Here, then, gentle reader, are my two achievable, significant, and measurable resolutions. I hereby resolve to: 1) remain the good-natured, helpful, handsome, and modest guy that I am; and 2) never show this column to my wife.

Happy New Year!

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About the Author

R. Andrew Newman is a freelance journalist in western Nebraska.