What promises are you making for 2024?
I have always avoided New Year’s resolutions. Partly, that’s because the holiday always struck me as a hollow, made-up affair, with forced excitement and too much drinking. Unlike, say, Christmas or Rosh Hashanah, it really seemed like nothing more substantial than a turning of the calendar. No Times Square cavorting for me.
Moreover, such customary vows as losing weight and exercising would likely prove short-lived or temporary, at best. Old habits die hard and just screwing up one’s resolve only to disappoint oneself in time — often in a very short time — seemed self-defeating.
But now that the calendar seems to turn faster and the road ahead is shorter than the road behind, I wonder if it’s time for me to revisit my reluctance. In whatever time remains, perhaps some goals, and knowing I have the means or ability to reach them, might be useful.
A new friend, who recently retired as a professor of nursing, told me the other day that she now has one job in life – to keep herself healthy. For her, that has meant dropping weight, a lot of it, and committing to a personal trainer. She spoke of how she celebrates every small achievement nowadays, whether it’s maintaining her new slenderness or bragging about the new definition in her arm and leg muscles (that trainer has been invaluable).
For my part (and for many of you, I expect), one job is far too small an estimate. We likely have myriad obligations as spouses, parents or grandparents. We may have commitments to volunteer efforts or to projects (writing-oriented ones or others). And all those come atop a basic need to stay healthy, which is quite the challenge in these Covid-will-be-with-us-forever times.
So, this brings me back to resolutions – or, perhaps, they could better be called aims or goals. One can fail in pursuing a resolution, after all, but if one falls short in an aim or a goal, one can still claim partial success. And one should always aim high, of course (consider the adage that one’s reach should always exceed one’s grasp).
Here are a few aims for me:
— Treat family members, particularly my devoted and superb wife, better each day than the one before.
— Be kind to strangers in need. This would apply to people I help as a volunteer at a ski resort and to folks such as the homeless who, sadly, seem to be proliferating everywhere.
— Make time for healthy diversions, such as exercise and hobbies such as honing those guitar skills.
— Be available for friends. Set up those for-the-hell-of-it dinners or lunches.
— Be fair-minded and open to alternative viewpoints.
— Avoid dwelling on toxic influences (that includes Donald Trump). And this one doesn’t contradict the prior one, since some things remain beyond the pale.
— Be kind to oneself, including being forgiving when falling short of such targets as those above.
Okay, so a skeptic may say these aims are vague. Better to promise something such as “drop 10 lbs. by Feb. 15” or “compliment my wife at least three times a day” or “write that damn novel, already.” But, that sort of specificity invites failure. Such detailed commitments smack of resolutions, not aims (see above).
So, fresh from a delightful New Year’s Eve gathering last night with friends (which wasn’t at all made up, but was wonderfully warm and fun), I set down these aims. Let’s see how well they stand up over the coming 365 days.
I hope your resolutions, aims or whatever, go well. Happy New Year, all.