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Break those resolutions gently

So here you are on the morning of Jan. 5, and you already broke every single resolution you made for the New Year. Stop berating yourself. It’s not your fault, and there’s still time to do things right.

Here, in a nutshell, is the problem: The resolutions you made for yourself were too hard. If you hope to honor your resolutions for the New Year, you need to establish goals that are not merely attainable but easy.

Let’s look at a few examples:



— You resolve to lose 20 pounds. This, as you figured out by 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day, is difficult. It requires sacrifice. It requires an exercise program. It even requires that you throw away the cookies that were left over from Christmas. It’s not your fault that your good intentions fell through. Everyone knows you’re not a saint. Think how much better you would feel about yourself if you resolved instead to gain five pounds by Memorial Day. There’s a resolution that can be achieved with only a little effort. And if you slip up and accidentally eat some vegetables one day, you still have plenty of time to hit the Little Debbie box.

— You resolve to get your personal finances in order. Again, you discover that this well-intentioned resolution raises insurmountable difficulties. At your age, who can you ask without embarrassment to teach you to balance a checkbook? You might even be forced to exercise self-control at a time when, as the ads say, you deserve something better. Doesn’t your self-esteem count for something, too? How subtly changing your resolution to this: I hereby resolve that during the coming year, I will spend more money. There! Doesn’t it feel better just saying the words? President Bush would be proud of you.




— You resolved to get more exercise? In this weather? It’s dark outside. You could get hurt. It’s clear you let yourself feel pressured by those TV commercials for exercise equipment. A realistic resolution: I hereby resolve to faithfully maintain the same exercise program I established for myself in 2001.

— You resolved to watch less television and read more books. But if you watch less television, you’d miss the East-West Shrine Game. And “Supermarket Sweep.” And that strange-looking guy who appears to be on the religious channel 24 hours a day. You won’t be able to be part of the gang at work. What are you going to do? Talk about the great philosophers at break? Gimme a break. A realistic resolution: I will read a book this year. Probably.

By now, you understand the system. The important thing, as you’ll note, is to spare your fragile ego from any sense of failure. What more could ask for 2002 than a new, always successful, you?

John Seelmeyer is editor of The Union, and his column appears on Saturday.


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