I’ve always been a “resolutions” guy. Over 50% of us make New Year’s Resolutions each year and over 50% of us fail to achieve them. That’s me, year after year, guilty of all charges, Your Honour.
Not surprisingly, I can’t speak Spanish, have yet to learn to play the piano, and there’s still no novel with my name on it. Oh, and I still weigh the same as last year.
My most humiliating failure was January 1, 1995. Armed with a fresh set of lofty resolutions to start the new year, I awoke in the late morning, foggy headed and bleary eyed from the previous night’s carousing.
A good buddy dropped by and we watched three football games that day, from about 12 noon to 12 midnight. We ordered pizza three times, before the kickoff of each game. Stayed in my boxer shorts and bathrobe all day, drank beer, ate pizza and watched football. Pretty much failed all my resolutions by the end of that night.
But you can’t blame a guy for trying. MLK wrote, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”, telling us that positive change takes a long time, but it does happen.
This reminds me of a recent exchange with another good friend, a social warrior without peer. We were going to get together for a holiday drink, but the plans fell through. I suggested we each stay home and just solve the world’s problems instead. She replied, “that’s easy. Smash the patriarchy. Decolonize. Discipline capitalism.”
Geez. It was embarrassing to reply, as I was only thinking of ways to make the awful Toronto Pearson Airport experience more “consumer friendly”.
The history of New Year’s Resolutions goes back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. They pledged to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. According to History.com, if they kept their word, “the gods would bestow favour on them for the coming year; if not, they would fall out of the gods’ favour – a place no one wanted to be.” Wow, talk about a lot riding on your resolutions.
In more recent times, our resolutions are less society oriented and more directed to self-improvement. The most common ones include:
- Exercise more / lose weight
- Learn a new skill
- Quite smoking or drinking
- Travel more / read more
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Save money / spend less
Perhaps the high failure rate on our resolutions over the years is just due to our innate nature. We are aiming high and falling short. We mean well, but we often screw up. We’re not that capable, we’re only human.
Two icons from the 1980’s are Springsteen and Mellencamp. Their concerts were legendary for their boundless energy, Springsteen’s being marathons close to four hours long and Mellencamp’s being a couple of hours of full out sprints. Today they are a couple of relatively old guys, but still making good music, recently collaborating on a song called “Wasted Days”:
How many summers still remain?
How many days are lost in vain?
Who’s counting out these last remaining years?
How many minutes do we have here?
Maybe just one resolution this year: Don’t Waste the Days. Except, of course, if friends are coming over to watch sports.