I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I loathe them with the fiery hot passion of a thousand suns. I believe my hatred started at the ripe age of seven while I sat with my parents in the living room of our apartment, hyped up on left-over candy canes, desperately trying to make it to midnight in my Fifel pajama’s from An American Tale. (That’s straight out of 1987 for you generation Y people.) That year, a tradition was formed at my house. My parents wrote down their New Year’s resolutions on pieces of paper, preparing to read them after midnight. By 11:15p.m. the suspense of not knowing what my father wrote was eating my mother alive inside, so we’d end up reading them just before Dick Clark counted down the last seconds, all the while shoving Taco Dip into our mouths.
That year, their resolutions were simple; quit smoking, save up some money so we can take a family vacation. You know what my resolution was? Visit the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. You can imagine what happened next, since this isn’t some hearts and flowers little ditty about how much New Year’s resolutions make the world a better place.
I carried on with them in the strange new tradition, and every year while my parents wrote down the same two resolutions that they never saw complete to fruition, I vowed to take the training wheels off my bike at eight, learned how to sew at nine, and got into the All County Orchestra at twelve for my mad Viola skills. By my teens, when I had left the nest on New Year’s Eve and partook in the shenanigans with my so called rebellious friends, I still held the tradition in my heart, making little lists in my journal of how this year would be the year I got my nose pierced, lose my virginity, and get that review of the new Pearl Jam album into the school paper.
By college, I gave up on it. To me, there was no point, unless you’re a cheeky only child who writes down the obvious when making a goal. I was flying high, and enjoying my life in that lovely space of nuevo adolescence where you’re old enough to drink but have no responsibilities except classes, working your crappy food service job, and wondering what the future would hold. But my parents? It’s still quit smoking and save money, except now it’s for fixing the driveway instead of taking a family vacation a quarter century later.
Last year, to break my tradition of close to ten years of not following the tradition, I made one huge resolution that would break all other resolutions, it would be the thing that made everything else I did in my short thirty two years on this planet pale in comparison. It was simple, yet complex. 2012 was the year I was going to publish my novel, haters be damned!
I should have known that was setting myself up for a failure of epic proportions. By the end of February, my manuscript, half edited, sat on a computer as a useless bunch of megabytes with the blue screen of death staring back at me, and I was defeated. I attempted over months and months to try to get back to where I was, once the geek squad at Best Buy retrieved everything, and found that not only did I not have enough time, but I was just emotionally, and financially spent.
So what’s my point? It’s simple. New Year’s resolutions are setting yourself up for failure. No one wants to start a new fitness regimen in January. Its cold, you’re bloated from all of your Christmas cookies and grandma’s fruitcake (unless it’s a brick, then forget it.) and the gym is packed and ridiculous. Your novel you’ve been working on back and forth for the past five years isn’t going to be miraculously finished in a year and ready to be published when you’re playing Sims Social on Facebook all night. All of these things require dedication and effort, and after the holidays, we’ve spent all of our effort on just making it through those ridiculous times without hitting the imbicles in the mall parking lot with our cars and trying not to make faces at our overbearing extended family members.
The world doesn’t care that Julius Caesar stated a calendar a ridiculously long time ago, and it’s been another full rotation of the earth around the sun. Time is arbitrary anyway, the Mayan calendar was one of the most complex forms of counting time I have ever seen, and I doubt they had resolutions except maybe to finish that calendar that was supposed to start on 12/22/12. If you want to change, change, be it on January 2nd or May 10th, or October 15th. Start small, be realistic, and stop thinking that writing down a goal on a little piece of paper will magically make it happen. Hold yourself accountable for what you want to achieve, and if the world gets in your way, with computer problems, or some Jersey Shore wanna-be hogging the Stairmaster at the gym, shake it off.
Unless, of course, you’re my parents. I’m still waiting for that smoke –free visit to the Cinderella castle.