In Defense of New Year Goals

Lately, I’ve been hearing negativity about New Year Resolutions, along the lines of “I always break them, so it only gives me an excuse to over-indulge at year’s end,” or “if didn’t start doing it earlier, why is the first of the year any better than any other day.”

Peter and I look at it in a different way. Making a new year’s resolution — and keeping it — is like winning a game and declaring victory. And as with any game, you have to have a plan in place to succeed.

A few years ago, Peter made a single resolution — to do 10,000 push-ups over the course of the year. As with almost any resolution, it wasn’t something he could do all at once. He divided the 10,000 pushups by the 365 days of the year, and did 30 a day. For some circumstance I can’t remember, there was a lapse, but he recovered by upping the number to 40 push-ups a day, and finished his 10,000 with a week to go for the year.

My goals for this year are continuing to do things I want to do more (or less) of, which I’ve already started, but which I’m formalizing into a formal plan. For instance, last year I had a list of people I’d like to hang out with more. The list only got longer, but my excuses for getting together were running thin. So I threw a New Year’s Day party and invited them all. Some had already come up with their own plans for having me see them; maybe more of them will, too. Or I can throw another party if I feel my social life is running low again.

Earlier in 2014, Peter and I became each other’s work out buddies, agreeing to both work out at 8 am, first three days a week, now five days a week. To continue doing so for all of 2015 doesn’t change anything, but when the year ends, we can cheer that we did so.

I saw my cousin Tammy in September of last year, and she reminded me of how much I used to love writing. I still love writing, but I hadn’t been doing it the way I used to. So I want to write more. That’s a nebulous goal. But also setting aside an hour each day to write is more specific. And Neil’s goal is to spend an hour a day creating a work of art each day, so I can put that time into his daily lessons, and have it set aside for myself as well.

If you don’t want to do something, no amount of official resolution will get you to do it. Buying a workout DVD and saying you’ll do it every day isn’t the same as actually doing it. But if you approach it like a challenge, and one you’re willing to take on, you can be a winner, with a little bit of discipline and willpower.

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