I gave up making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, mostly due the the embarrassing speed with which I broke them. I never lost the ten pounds I resolved to shed, probably because my resolution to hit the gym regularly and eat only healthy food never lasted more than two weeks. I usually managed to be lose my temper or be overly critical of something by January 4th (at the latest), so there went my resolution to always keep a positive attitude. And as for tackling my long list of things I was supposed to do but really, really, didn’t want to do, all I can say is, that didn’t happen either. My New Year’s resolutions always ended up making me feel like a chubby, crabby failure with a serious procrastination problem. So I stopped making them.
Still, there is always something about a new year that feels a bit hopeful and optimistic. Maybe it’s the simple act of putting a brand new calendar up on my refrigerator, with all those blank squares not yet filled in with appointments and obligations. Maybe it’s the fact that the days are finally beginning to get longer rather than shorter, even if we are in the early stages of winter. It might even be knowing that the crazy holiday schedule of all those extra commitments, parties and family gatherings is drawing to a close. Because as much as I enjoy them, I really don’t have the stamina too keep up that pace for very long. One way or another, a new year seems offer the possibility of a new start, and an opportunity for a slightly better way of life.
I guess that is why, despite my long tradition of breaking my New Year’s resolutions, the beginning of January always finds me thinking seriously about making some changes in my life. I know that some things are never going to change, and that no matter how much I’d like to have a more cheerful disposition, I’m never going to be one of those people who lights up a room simply by walking into it. And as for the extra ten pounds, they have taken up permanent residence on my hips and have no plans to move, ever. Still, there are plenty of areas in my life where I would like to improve, and this time of year somehow gives me hope that those changes can actually happen.
I may be well into the second half of my life, but I still have certain hopes and dreams for my future, and I still believe that with a bit of effort on my part, at least some of those hopes and dreams can be realized. And I’m beginning to realize that maybe the key to making New Year’s resolutions is to look at the big picture, and to recognize exactly what it is that I want to accomplish in the time I have left, and what steps I need to take to make that happen. And then begin moving toward those goals, one resolution at a time. Even baby steps move us forward, and eventually get us where we want to be.
January 1st may be just another date on the calendar, but I believe the promise of the New Year is real. It’s the promise and hope of new possibilities, if only we are willing and brave enough to try for them. And one way or another, I intend to honor that promise.