Let’s tone down the resolution ambition

Just Saying by Paul Sullivan published in Metro Canada

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Ben Franklin

I’m not sure if Ben Franklin invented New Year’s resolutions, but he invented everything else, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Every year, I go looking for a better man to take my place, but for some reason I can never find one, so I try to improve on the current model: Paul 2.0.

Of course, I’m not the only one. Most of us are unwrapping our 2011 calendars with the same sense of deluded optimism. And if our optimism doesn’t seem deluded now, I’ll check in again on Dec. 31 and see how you feel.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the top five New Year’s resolutions are: 1. lose weight; 2. pay off debt; 3. get in shape; 4. eat right; and 5. reduce stress.

All admirable goals. If you’re like me, you’ve probably achieved each and every one.

For example, I have no trouble losing weight. And even less trouble putting it back on again.
I pay off debt like crazy. I’m never without debt to pay off.

I’m in shape. Pear shape.

I eat right. And left. And sometimes with both hands at the same time.

And I reduce stress by overeating, retail therapy, and taking to the couch, preferably all three at once.

I can’t figure out why Paul 2.0 is so elusive. I have the blueprint, and if that doesn’t work, every talking head on the planet knows how to keep my New Year’s resolutions. All I have to do is …

Maybe it’s not you or me after all; maybe the resolutions are unrealistic. (Maybe? Have you ever met a successful resolution keeper? I didn’t think so.) We need less ambitious resolutions.

So, this year, I resolve never to turn left without signalling. I resolve to tie a double knot so my shoelaces don’t come undone. And, as a bonus resolution, I’m going to put the toilet seat back down.

Now these are resolutions that have a chance of being kept. If you think they lack a certain, um, resolve, let’s compare notes again Dec. 31 and see who kept what.

Let’s give the Father of All Resolutions the last word, this time on the whole idea of resolutions:

“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”

Next year, I might try that.

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