The thing about New Year’s resolutions is they are so boring. Everyone tends to have the same ones – lose weight, exercise more, work less, play more.
More exotic resolutions tend to leave me scratching my head – learn another language, make a new friend, take a dance class.
Listen, I have enough problems wrestling with the English language every week. I don’t see the friends I do have often enough, and I’m not about to start dancing at 52. My plié is played out, the only tapping I do is my fingers on my desk while waiting for a file to download, and I’d much rather eat salsa than dance it.
I haven’t always been so jaded about resolutions. Indeed, in my teens I’d regularly fill a journal with my goals for the New Year.
You might have noticed that I didn’t marry Andy Gibb.
Or join the Bay City Rollers on tour.
Or entertain Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” with my witty banter and collection of amusing anecdotes that I dutifully jotted in the aforementioned journals.
Resolutions just never worked out for me. Either they were too lofty or too banal. Even the more creative ways to inspire change or achievement proved unsuccessful.
For example, for several years my high school youth group leader had us write letters to ourselves on New Year’s Eve. We’d then receive these missives in the mail the week after Christmas the following year.
None of those letters remain, but I do vividly remember one that began, “Dear Cindy, Please ALWAYS remember you are AWESOME, no matter what that jerk Donny says.”
Actually, I feel much better just reading that sentence. Perhaps, I’ll tape that above my desk.
Recalling resolutions made me wonder just how this tradition began, so I did a little research. (OK, I Googled it, but research sounds better.)
Apparently, the ancient Babylonians started the ball rolling some 4,000 years ago. During a massive 12-day festival they crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed.
Alas, we can’t hold a presidential election every Jan. 1, though one does wonder why the Founding Fathers didn’t consider this concept. However, it is a good idea to start the year by paying off your library overdue fines, and by returning your mother-in-law’s serving spoon that you’ve had since Thanksgiving 2007. Not that I’d know anything about that.
I told my husband I’d gotten a good start on some manageable goals and wanted to add more.
“Maybe I should get a new hairstyle for the New Year,” I mused.
Derek was dismayed.
“Oh no!” he said. “I love your hair. It’s all Farrah Fawcett-y!”
Obviously, “new hair” is staying on the resolution list.
Scanning an online list of popular resolutions, I considered adding “quit smoking” to mine. Of course, I’d actually have to start smoking and then quit, which seems like way too much work just to chalk something up in the successful resolution column.
I found a list of unusual resolutions that intrigued until I got to “make the usual unusual.” What does that even mean? I usually brush my teeth every morning – should I skip it? I usually look both ways before I cross the street, should I throw caution to the wind?
Also perplexing was the suggestion to “fall in love with life in 2018.” I mean, I like life just fine. You might even say I’m committed to it, but how on earth does one measure the success of falling in love with it?
Speaking of success, further reading revealed just 16 percent of people over 50 achieve their resolutions each year, while 37 percent of people in their twenties do.
It seems resolutions are a younger person’s game.
For me I’m going to stick with the basics. Today, I resolved to get out of bed, get dressed and get this column done.
Hey, two out of three isn’t bad.
Contact Cindy Hval at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.