Sunday, January 1, 2012

This year will be different. I am going to oscillate through various diet and exercise programs until I am 20 pounds heavier. I am going to eat more salt, and wait longer to reply to emails and voicemail. I know these don't sound like good goals, but I have so badly underachieved my resolutions over the past several years that if I miss these by the same degree - I’ll lose weight, lower my blood pressure, and be more responsive to my students.

I don't know about you, but New Year's Resolutions are not one of the glory spots on my life's accomplishments list. I have tried every manner of resolution, including the resolving not to make any more resolutions. I am tortured by the knowledge that my resolutions tend to morph as the year progresses to a point that they are impossible to fail. For instance, I start the year with:

  • January 1: I resolve to lose 25 pounds before April 1
  • Later, this becomes: I will lose 10 pounds before May
  • Which morphs into: I will endeavor to lose weight sometime this year
  • By late mid-summer: I will eat better and try to exercise (note how any mention of weight loss has slipped right off the list!)
  • Which denigrates into: I will eat.

Around about October 1, I take the last quarter of the year to deliberately over-indulge my eating psychosis and accept my exercise phobias and inundate my system with toxins so as to purge my body of any healthy desires. This sets the stage for my weight-loss resolutions which I will start, of course, next year.

Keeping resolutions is tough even though we know we are merely resolving to do what we ought to be doing. The problem is not with making resolutions, it's with assuming that any failure negates the promise and nullifies the goal. Make the resolutions you think will improve your life and then ... start

Start the martial arts class.  Start the morning exercise routine.  Start eating better. Start not smoking.

When you eventually fail; and make no mistake you will falter, start again.

So you lit another cigarette. You ate the whole big piece of chocolate cake. You skipped karate class. Fair enough.  Now what would you tell your best friend under the same circumstance? Would you say, "Oh well, you tried not smoking, give up and suck some more carcinogens." Or, "Oh, you missed karate class - guess you're an abject failure now. Better just give up."

I'm not suggesting that you give yourself a pass and never feel bad about regressing - but for Pete's sake, discipline is like any other personal attribute - it takes practice.

Resolve to do something right that will make you more like the person you envision. Try, try, and try again. If you falter, start again.

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