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Aluminum Linings

4 January 2014

Other people’s New Year’s resolutions fascinate me. What someone chooses speaks volumes about her self-perception, her world view, her hopes and dreams. But when I ask people about theirs, most skewer me with a look usually reserved for cultists. “I don’t make resolutions,” they say. “If I want to change, I’ll just do it.” And if the tone of voice isn’t quite condescending, it’s because they’re in shock. I’m jaded and cynical, and no one expects me to publicly engage in a behavior apparently reserved for the feeble-minded and highly suggestible.

I could talk about how few of these people ever change anything. To make a resolution (at any time of the year) requires looking at your life, seeing something that you dislike, and taking steps to improve it. Seeing a problem and setting a goal. Why are goals at the beginning of the year somehow less worthy than goals in mid-June? Because everyone is doing it in January. Except for one thing… most people who claim they’ll “just do it” don’t set goals in mid-June. Or on any other day. I think they forget. (Or maybe they’re happy with their lives, in which case they should write a book about how to do it.)

So I choose to stand with the masses.

The second reason I hear is “I’ll probably just fail anyway.” It’s true–though I don’t think failure is a good reason not to try something. To quote Sammy Beckett: Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Fully 92% of resolutions fizzle every year, most of them rather quickly.  That amazes me, but not because 92% is so high. What I see is that 8% of people who decide to make a change in their lives actually succeed. How amazing is that??? And what of the people who fall short of their goals but at least leave the starting line and are therefore better off? For every person who resolves to lose twenty pounds, how many of them “only” lose five? How many heavy smokers or drinkers manage to cut back? Maybe not many, but some…

By January 2nd I’d already broken many of my resolutions, which are mostly about working fewer hours in an attempt to have a balanced life again.

Yes, like the masses, I failed…

So I failed. But even when I “found” myself in front of Scrivener’s warm glow at 11pm the other day, I wasn’t upset. Because working late was, for the first time, something I’d chosen to do. It’s 2014, and I’m now supposed to stop at 7:30. Hm. Maybe I’m… allowed… to stop then… if I work later, it’s a choice, not a directive from the workaholic who marches back and forth in my brain. So that’s a change for the better. I’ll take it. And with a bit of luck and a lot of ingenuity, I might even get on track by March.

Here’s to finding an aluminum lining no matter what your goals… it looks like silver to me, down here in the muck.

Whoa! Did you hear that noise? That’s me scratching “write one semi-inspirational blog post” off my resolution list.

Happy new year!

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