11 January 2010

Resolutions are for suckers

"New Year's Day - Now is the accepted time to make your annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
Mark Twain

It's the second full week of 2010, and I'm feeling pity for the salad makers at the Pork Palace. This time of year, ticket after ticket cascades from the printer in the kitchen, running nonstop like a faucet which can't be turned off. Chilled bowls are lined up, waiting to be filled with vegetable goodness to fulfill the high-minded intentions of the customers in the dining room. Lettuce flies, tomatoes roll, and the company makes a killing on a very low-cost product. It's a busy, busy time for the salad makers.

Of course, this bit of stress and extra work is only temporary. By February, the salad maker's workload will ease, slowly at first, but eventually returning to a normal pace as only the people who eat salads the rest of the year continue to order them. All those extra salads being made at present go away, as
all the "I'm going to lose weight this year" resolutions devolve into a heaping basket of crispy, battered onion rings.

Why does this happen?
The problem lies in the whole idea of resolutions themselves.

Think about it: Once a year, we look at our lives and decide to change something about it. "I'm going to lose weight." "I'm going to stop smoking." "I'm going to quit whatever."

Bleah. That's no fun.

I think the best resolution I saw this year came from a comment on facebook: "I want to drink more and put on weight." At least make your resolution attainable, right?

I think the issue is that people generally make resolutions that are restrictive and chock-full of ways to deny oneself. Of course, the intent is always noble, but the practice... well, the practice just seems to say "don't" over and over again until the resolver is doomed to fail.

So I made no resolutions this year. Nor did Jean. Nor have we for the past several years.

It's not that we don't want to better ourselves; we most definitely do. In fact, we work on it just about every day. But rather than making a list of near-impossible achievements and denying ourselves, we're making plans. Turning negatives into positives. Setting goals and then determining the actions we need to achieve those goals.

I have a fairly extensive and far-reaching list of goals I want to achieve this year. They include living a more mindful life; becoming a non-smoker; becoming a published author; and enhancing my relationships with Jean, my daughters and step-daughters, my aging mother, and the rest of my extended family. There are others, many of which are lofty, but all of which are, to me, attainable.

In addition to my goals, I'm thinking through the actions I will need to undertake in order to achieve them.
Thoughtful consideration of what needs to be done is the hard part, but I am doing my best to be thorough with my plans. I'm consciously phrasing the plan in a positive manner (you will find neither the word "don't" nor "stop" anywhere in the plan), I'm plotting out baby steps and attainable plateaus, and as I work I am finding that many of these actions (even more than I first thought) intertwine to reach multiple goals.

So, there it is. Resolutions are out (again), and planning is in. There is much work to be done, and I am eagerly anticipating not only the results but the work itself.

If I have one word of advice, it is this: Punt the resolutions in favor of a plan, and then follow through with it. Make 2010 your best year yet. And eat the onion rings. They're delicious.

1 comment:

Wade Kwon said...

I think you've nailed it, Richard. Goals without plans/deadlines are mere wishes. I like how you're keeping positive with your steps.