No resolution best resolution

Published 9:09 am Sunday, January 4, 2015

Be honest with me. How many of you, just four days into 2015, have already given up on your New Year’s resolution?

This is a judgment-free zone, so be completely honest.

How many of you started a diet on Jan. 1, then had heaping portions of leftovers or too many pieces of your grandmother’s famous fudge?

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Who amongst you came up with an ironclad fitness plan to get into shape for 2015? How many of you have actually started that fitness plan?

I ask these questions not to call anyone out for failing at their resolutions so soon, but to pose this question: Why is it so hard to keep New Year’s resolutions.

I mean, it’s a brand new year. The proverbial slate has been wiped clean. Forget about all those times you ate one (or four) slices of pizza too many. And all those lazy afternoons when you could have taken a walk or jog but instead you binge-watched “House of Cards” on Netflix, that’s in the past now.

We should be pumped to start this journey of becoming a brand new person, right? So all these goals should be easy, shouldn’t they?

For me, it’s just too much pressure, especially at the beginning of a new year, and an inevitable disappointment when I’ve realized I’ve failed.

A few years ago I joined the YMCA with the intention of getting into shape for the New Year. The gyms there were packed. The fitness classes were full. Everyone else had the same goal I did.

And I started off pretty well. I made a calendar and picked three or four days a week I could spend about an hour at the Y. I did a lot of classes — yoga, Zumba, circuit training — because I needed the structure that a class provides. A clear start time and a clear stopping time.

For a few months I was pretty devoted to that routine. But then, and I can’t remember what exactly happened, I started to fall off track.

Eventually I wasn’t going to the Y at all anymore. I was still paying for the membership, but that was about it.

The next time I walked into that place, it was around the first week of January the following year. I went to the service desk and said to the woman there, “I bet you don’t have too many people cancelling their membership this time of year, do you?”

The woman laughed and said, “No, I don’t guess so.”

I had to laugh, too. It was fairly comical.

I tried and failed at a New Year’s resolution and I haven’t made one since.

Not to say that I’ve given up on improving myself; that’s not it at all. I just think big sweeping declarations of “this is how I’m going to change myself this year” don’t work for me.

The first couple of month of 2014 were pretty awful for me. I was going through some things in my personal life that turned my world upside down.

But, by the spring I was beginning to see things right side up again. I made some choices about how I wanted to live, the main one being I wanted to be happy.

Among the other choices were becoming active in community groups and social activities and hobbies.

I’m happy to report I’m still a member each group that I joined, I’m still keeping up with my hobbies, my social life is good and I am actually happy. Plus, I lost all the weight I tried to get rid of at the YMCA.

Those things didn’t all happen at once. I had to tackle each element a little at a time, set benchmarks for myself.

I think that’s the best way for me to achieve real and positive change. And that’s why my New Year’s resolutions never worked. They were too broad and just set me up for failure.

Having looked back at the past year and my progress, my new tactic is going to be a self-audit system. And if you think this could help you realize your personal goals, feel free to use it.

To audit your happiness, take a look at the things that you enjoy doing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that you enjoy. And look at the things that are making you unhappy.

Ideally, your happy list should outweigh the unhappy list. But if it doesn’t, and here is the simple solution, just add more items to the happy list.

If we’re being honest, aren’t most of the things that make us unhappy things that we cause or bring on ourselves? But they are still hard to change.

So rather than try and change what makes you unhappy, just add more of the things that do make you happy into your daily life. You’ll find after a while, your unhappy list will become much shorter. Those things that used to bug you, you won’t place such a huge importance on them anymore and they won’t even rank on your list.

That’s just my 2 cents. If you resolve to do anything in the New Year, resolve to be happier, and everything else will just fall into place.


Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at