What to do about resolutions?

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 1/3/20

Well, here we are a few days into the new year. Wonder how long it will take us all to remember to write “2020” on checks instead of “2019”?

That assumes you still write a check once in a …

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What to do about resolutions?

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Well, here we are a few days into the new year. Wonder how long it will take us all to remember to write “2020” on checks instead of “2019”?

That assumes you still write a check once in a while and are not like the 17- or 18-year-old cashier at the grocery who told me a month or so ago that he had never written a check in his life.

He probably doesn’t carry any cash either, which might explain why his age pays for a hamburger at Mickey D’s with plastic.

But an even bigger question to ponder is: “How long will it take us to break or forget our New Year’s resolutions?” — even if we did make some.

Interesting thing, those resolutions. Toward the end of each year, we promise ourselves and anyone else who will listen that beginning next year we will do or not do certain things, things we should be paying attention to all along. Promises are made, stories are written, intentions are good...and then, sooner or later, they’re broken or forgotten. It’s not usually on purpose or with ill will or evil intent; it just happens.

We want to do better; we try for awhile; our plans are good but follow through is hard and, as my dear sweet departed mama used to tell me and my brothers, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

So what are we to do, if anything?

Well, we could stop making resolutions, big ones and little ones. That way there would be nothing to break or forget. That may be the easiest thing to do...or not to do. Problem with that is that when we do nothing then we’re doing nothing and nothing usually happens, except the opposite of what we wanted to happen because we didn’t do anything.

Or we could make resolutions but keep them reachable. Psychologists and other mental health experts tell us that one of the contributing factors to frustration in our lives is that we set our expectations unrealistically high and then when, of course, we don’t reach them we blow up.

For instance, if I resolved that in 2020 I’m going to get my body in shape and go back to Carolina and join Ol’ Roy’s basketball team since he needs some help and I still have all four years of college playing eligibility left and then lead the Heels to the national championship. then I’m probably not going to make it. My plus-70 body is now home to creaks, aches and pains and competition to get into school is so high I probably couldn’t make it, especially since I’m a cultural dinosaur.

Instead a more realistic goal would be not “to lose weight” but “to lose 10 pounds by June 1.” That’s more doable but whether it, too, will happen is up to me and will depend in large part on pizza intake for 2020. The part about the “creaks, aches and pains” is up to my orthopedic doc.

Assuming, however, that what we really want to do is make things better then we could try a third alternative that includes the realistic and reachable resolutions — namely, not just talking about them but doing them. And that has a lot to do with time and our use of it.

Time is a funny thing...not funny as in “ha ha” funny, but funny in its nature. Madison Avenue advertising tells us we can “save” time with all sorts of electronic gadgets from can openers to the latest phone gizmo. But really all those things let us do is do more faster and then try to cram in more stuff in the time it used to take to twist the hand-held can opener or dial the rotary phone. (If you don’t know what a rotary phone is, contact me...but not by way of a smart phone; I don’t have one.)

We also can’t “make” time, despite stuff we say like “make time” for this or that. All we’re doing there is setting priorities, as in do I want to spend two hours liking something on Facebook, or is it a better use of time to visit the shut-in lady down the road?

So, really, all we can do is “spend” time...and that’s where the doing of resolutions comes in. Make that visit. Place that call. Write that letter. Read that book gathering dust on the table. And do them daily...and even sometimes eat dessert first.

Think of all the folks on the Titanic who didn’t. And then when 2020 is a sight in your rear view mirror see if the year didn’t go pretty well. Make a resolution to let me know.


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