HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It’s that time. Time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Or, at least, to defensively justify not making New Year’s Resolutions.
“Me? Oh, no, I don’t make resolutions,” you tell the friend who’s writing a VRML-based application to track his 1999 progress toward the ideal body fat/muscle mass ratio. “I don’t think it’s right to force or cause with some sort of official pronouncement something as magical and mysterious and ‘just happens’ as Finding a Life Partner,” you say to … Breakup Mom. “Experts say that expecting instant results often leads to discouragement and feelings of failure,” you inform the friend who’s rejiggering her Quicken to automatically funnel 10% of her 1999 income into a new Roth IRA.
Well, you’re right. Experts do say that. According to Dr. Domeena Renshaw, a professor of psychiatry at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, 50 percent of American adults make New Year’s resolutions. Approximately 38 percent are still committed to change after seven days, but that number dwindles to less than 15 percent after six months.
Our resolve, it seems, is about as firm as the slush on the stoop. Why the thaw?
“A common mistake people make when they proclaim a resolution is to anticipate immediate gratification,” says Dr. Renshaw. “Individuals must recognize that change is slow and requires dedication.”
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. But I think I’ve come up with the real reason why New Year’s Resolutions are doomed from the start.
It’s all in the timing.
Well, sure. When are we supposed to come up with do-good, feel-good, be-good, eat-good, make-that-change vows for the next year? Right at the time of year when we’re subsisting on rum balls and whole milk with raw eggs, watching the salt erode our new Manolos, measuring love in square feet of wrapping paper, never getting around to writing that holiday form letter, and living on the lam from Diners’ Club bounty hunters.
Not, shall we say, a very empowered place to be when attempting to make life-changing resolutions.
So here’s what I think we should do: make New Year’s Resolutions in the fall — like, say, around the Jewish New Year, or around the autumnal equinox (which, before the Georgian calendar messed everyone up, was when the Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians sang Auld Lang Syne). That’s when everyone’s actually feeling pretty jaunty, right? The weather’s no longer sweltering, apples make great snacks, new classes mean new crushes, we’re finally about to find out how on earth Mulder and Scully are going to get out of this one, and, everywhere you look, there are adorable little gourds and excellent sales on school supplies.
Now that’s a good time to make some serious plans.
So I’m off the hook for now. But it never hurts to plan ahead — so, while we’re on the subject, here’s how BG will pave the road to hell, come fall.
- I resolve never to call a guy to tell him I’m not talking to him.
- I resolve never to hook up with anyone whom I will later identify not by name, but by some other characteristic (eg “Renaissance Faire Man”).
- I will go to the trouble of making risotto only for suitors who can distinguish it from “rice.”
- I resolve that all gifts will reflect his taste, not my agenda, even though there’s a dope new DVD version of The Beauty Myth.
- Resolved: I’m way too old to leave my contacts in shot glasses on someone’s speakers.
- If I call a guy and he does not call me back, I resolve never, ever, EVER to wonder if I should have followedThe Rules.
- God grant me the serenity to accept the fact that a decent latte will cost me $4.
- I will recalibrate my standards. Note to self: “He’s … normal!” is a given, not a plus.
- This will be the year that I use The Pill to control birth, not zits.
While I’m at it, here are some resolutions CERTAIN OTHER PEOPLE need to make: (more…)