Oscar Wilde wrote, “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” Statistics show that, unsurprisingly, 97% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. What is it about the beginning of a new year that makes us feel as though we need to make at least one radical change in our lives? Is it facing the daunting fact of getting another year older, and thus the reality of our mortality hits us hardest at the end of December?
Aside from this year, I haven’t ever really set a New Year’s resolution for myself. I’m cynical by nature (and lazy) and laugh in the face of new gym memberships every January. If I really wanted to lose the extra 15 pounds I tend to carry every winter, I’d just do it. But french fries, Oreos, and being sedentary after work is SO much more appealing. I somehow find the motivation to lose most of the flab every spring and summer (it’s amazing what the thought of bathing suit shopping does for motivation), so it doesn’t really concern me. As long as my pants find a way to fit, I don’t feel the need to resolve to become more Richard Simmons-y in the new year.
Something happened this year, however, for the first time. I decided I was done wishing and hoping for things to fulfill my life. Since I felt I was finally in a place where I could make things happen, I decided 2010 was going to be the year I shut up and stopped talking about the things I wanted to do and have in my life. This year, I actually did them.
I applied for a better job at the college where I already worked. I took a chance and really went for it, even though it’s not a permanent position and there are no guarantees. But it’s already been extended once and I have confidence in myself and what I’m capable of, and I look forward to where this new experience takes me in my career. I finally auditioned for a theatre production for the first time since college, and got a tiny positive mention in an otherwise mediocre review. I started paying off defaulted student loans (woops) and took the first steps toward recovering a very dismal credit score. I was thrust into the local spotlight when bedbugs infested our college campuses and centers, and the school needed someone somewhat articulate to tell the community that we weren’t “dirty”. I got my name out there and proved to my colleagues that I’m not a complete moron. I taught a non-credit, 13-week course to help 7 women become certified to apply for jobs as administrative assistants. Just watching their glee over mastering Power Point really put things into a different and much-needed perspective for me. This was the first year I actually followed through with a precedent I set for myself, and exceeded my expectations. I surprised those around me, but most of all I surprised the hell out of myself.
Now the question is, do I want to do the same for 2011? Being the cynic that I truly am, I am inclined to say that this can’t possibly continue for another calendar year because: a.) I am totally Charlie Brown 95% of the time; b.) lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice; and c.) Again, I’m lazy. But I do think it’s still realistic to at least try and keep it going–calendar years don’t have to have the limits we set for them, after all. Then again, if you see me wandering the 10th street bypass by next September looking for aluminum cans and muttering about cats, maybe throw me a bone (or a beer from Jack’s) and send an encouraging message my way.
What are some of your past/present New Year’s resolutions? Why do you think they keep us going? I’d love to hear from you.