Checks on life – get on with it
If it were for resolve alone, I would be a guitar virtuoso, fluent in several languages, have a law degree, be kinder to my neighbors and less flaky with my friends, five pounds lighter and have at least one marathon under my belt.
It’s a pity, I tell you.
Despite the fact that resolve achieves little without discipline, I’m a sucker for resolutions. While most of my friends dismiss New Year’s resolutions as a sure invitation for failure, I relish the torture of committing ways to improve myself to paper.
Each year, I draw up a long list of personal to-dos. I labor over it, prioritize, strike out and add on everything from profound to shallow. When I’m satisfied that all my shortcomings have been adequately addressed, I copy the list into my journal, and there it stays ” a page-long reminder that the path of least resistance rarely leads to change.
I admit many of my resolutions have enjoyed repeat billing over the years. Quitting smoking held the top spot of my New Year’s resolution list for five years in a row ” funny to think of it now, since I quit nowhere near the beginning of a new year and with my list being the least important reason to kick that nasty habit.
But some of the well-documented guilt must have figured into stubbing out that last cigarette. Being kinder to people and living healthier have also been steady top contenders on my list for as long as I can remember ” and chances are good they will back this new year again.
Against all resolve, I still lash out when the mood is right and I have yet to overcome my fondness for caffeine and all things salty or fatty.
It’s a pity, I tell you.
While my carefully crafted resolutions rarely lead to tangible results, the very exercise of self-examination makes it worth my while, because now and then I do manage to change something about myself for the better.
It’s never anything big and rarely a black-and-white sort of aspiration, rather it’s usually something subtle, something I wrote between the lines of my list.
Over the years, I have learned to be more patient with myself and not give up at the sight of possible failure. I’ve become punctual against all odds, because I have finally come to realize that my tardiness inconveniences myself the most and hurts my friends unneccessarily.
I have become quieter, less prone to temper tantrums. I’ve become more aware of the small blessings in life, less caught up in the big goals.
Most of all, after years of listing my faults and plotting ways to turn them into assets, I have become more tolerant with myself, but at the same time stricter in my expectations.
True, I will never be perfect, but I can strive harder to be better with each passing year. You could call it my self-published self-help book. Each year it’s mostly the same old stuff, but packaged like something new and exciting. I wouldn’t want to begin a new year without it.