Look Before You Leap into Resolutions
By Robert Kirby, The Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1998
One of my favorite homilies is "Wish in one hand and spit in the other,
and see which one fills up first." Or words to that effect.
I use this as a guideline when drawing up a list of New Year's
resolutions (NYRs). If not completely honest, it at least keeps me
somewhat lucid in my planning. After all, there is no point in
resolving to do something that just isn't going to happen because of
some pathological foolishness on your part.
Experts -- and it's pretty scary to think that there are some in this
field -- say that the secret to effective New Year's resolutions is
understanding the difference between wishes and goals. Wishes are mere
For example, "I wish I weighed less than a Dumpster" is not a good
resolution. See? It has the word "wish" in it. A resolution needs to
be more concrete.
Weighty Goal: An appropriate NYR would be to set a goal of weighing
less than said Dumpster, mainly by assigning yourself a goal weight.
Say, oh, absolutely no more than a Trash Masher, including marble
The important thing is to be realistic. Set goals you can reach,
preferably without the use of illegal drugs and beatings. Think the
My first resolution, made when I was 9, was to go the entire year
without being stung by a wasp. It was a good NYR, but I didn't think it
through. Proof came in June when I was stung 11 times in 30 seconds.
The experience helped me further refine the resolution to "not squirt
wasp nests with the hose."
Writing down your NYRs is an essential part of the process. Experts
claim written goals are much harder to ignore, especially if you write
them on your face with a tattoo gun. A good written goal for someone
trying to get out of debt would be to write "Avoid all further contact
with loan sharks" on both leg casts.
Take It Easy: Be patient. Do not expect results overnight. The best
NYRs are the ones that take time. Nowhere is this more true than in
such aggressive NYRs as a divorce, completed novel, Zen achievement, or
the dictatorship of a medium-size countries.
The absolute most important part of an NYR is the one thing that experts
in this field have ignored. More than anything else, it is the one
factor that makes an NYR successful and satisfying.
Do not forget to lord your NYR over other people. Being insufferable
about your NYR encourages other people to help you keep your resolution.
For example, say you want to quit smoking. Seek out people who are
still smoking and needle them about what you are no longer doing to your
lungs. "Yup, it's been 46 hours and 13 minutes, and I feel better
already. You know you're killing yourself, don't you?"
Later, when you try to cadge a smoke off these people, they will either
gleefully remind you of your high-minded NYR, or punch you in the face.
Either way, you will not get the smoke and that puts you one step closer
Furthermore, any sign of NYR progress should be exploited to the max.
If, after a couple of months of dieting, you can finally get your butt
into the car without having to back in first, you should run out and
purchase some Spandex clothing. Put it on and go out in public. The
looks on people's faces will help remind you that you still have a long
way to go.