Though I am writing this at the beginning of November, I can predict that by the time you read this in the middle of January, I will have broken my New Year’s Resolution. I’m sure if Benjamin Franklin had been truly honest, his quote would be that the only certainties in life are death, taxes, and the fact that New Year’s resolutions are rarely kept.
The idea of committing to a resolution is nothing new. Four thousand years ago, the ancient Babylonians would resolve to return borrowed farming equipment. The bigwigs of ancient Rome would take an accounting of the previous year’s accomplishments and resolve to do better the next year. Since the Roman Empire folded, and much of what was Babylon is now a desert, it’s logical to assume that someone broke a resolution.
And yet the majority of us still valiantly attempt to make, and keep, our commitment to do whatever it is that we thought so important to do that, instead of just saying we would do it, we actually resolved to do it. And then break the resolution.
According to Google searches, of the 58 percent of us who make a New Year’s resolution, a mere 9 percent are successful in keeping it. Unless my new New Year’s resolution involves permanently removing Brussel sprouts from my diet or forgoing weekend trips to the Antarctica for bikini shopping, I’m almost certain I’ll never be in that 9-percent bracket.
I am, however, in good company with other resolvers. Over 40 percent of people who make resolutions do so with self-improvement or education-related topics in mind. I remember being back in college and resolving that I would definitely make it to most of my 8 a.m. classes on time. I left a lot of ambiguity as to what ‘on time’ was and hedged my bets by not registering for any 8 a.m. classes, but the intent was genuine. The second largest group of resolutions is unsurprisingly centered on weight-related issues followed closely by money-related commitments. Given the, at times, herculean efforts that resolutions require to be successful, it is not surprising that a whopping 72 percent are broken within the first week. There’s something a little sad in that statistic.
Perhaps the reason why all my younger years’ resolutions failed is that they were focused on me. What if I had changed my college resolution from, “I am going to force myself out of bed to get myself to my class on time” to, “I will honor my instructors, and my parents’ tuition money, by acknowledging their commitment to my education by showing up and participating?” Would my quintessential “must-please-everyone” personality have gone into overdrive to ensure that the professors knew how much I appreciated their efforts to make me a contributing member of society? I think so.
So, in 2018, I resolve to test the theory of externally focused resolutions centered around the effects my resolutions will have on those around me. Instead of resolving to hit the gym most of the days in a week and eat healthier because it’s better for me, my 2018 resolution is that my partner, my family and my grandson deserve to have me at the highest level of health and fitness to be able to fully participate in the enjoyment of their lives. I will honor them by being all I can be. I also resolve to deliver at least one fully authentic, completely sincere compliment to at least one person every day so that they know how truly grateful I am to be a part of their lives. And, in a world that seems to be chaotically changing at every turn, I resolve to be kinder, gentler and more accepting, in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
My persistent hatred of Brussel sprouts necessitates the steadfast resolution to avoid them no matter what. Some things never change.