Most of us make them — you’re probably considering some right now — but few of us stick to them for any appreciable length of time (admit it, you’re over/under is probably three weeks for any given resolution).
We all know the usual suspects: eating healthier, hitting the gym, household projects, etc. Our intentions are always good: We’re going to get into shape, lead a healthier lifestyle and spruce up the humble abode a little bit.
We get swept away with the promise of a new beginning, a fresh start, a reimagining of ourselves at the dawn of another new year.
Invariably, however, as late January approaches, there we are, reverting back to our same old selves, justifying everything we eat (“a little cake and ice cream won’t hurt me”) and skipping our first workout (“it’s only one; I’ll get back at it tomorrow”), which becomes two missed workouts, then three, then the workout clothes become buried under an avalanche of fabric in the back of the closet.
So what happens to us? Why can’t most of us stick to our resolutions that we swore up and down we’d stick to this time? After all, this time was going to be different: Unlike past years, we were serious about these resolutions; it was going to happen. There we’d be in October, 10 months into the year, and our resolutions would be going strong. We’d be fit, feeling great, on top of our game.
Are our resolutions just not realistic? Too ambitious, maybe? Are we too set in our ways? Does the cold, hard reality of life smack us in the face and make us realize that while resolutions are nice, our other obligations in life are more important?
It’s probably a combination of all of those. So as I ponder my potential resolutions for 2024, I’m trying to separate the wheat from the chaff between what is attainable and what is a pipe dream.
Maybe talking it out will help:
– Resolution: Sticking with my diet. In late 2022, based on my family history of heart attacks, our doctor had me undergo a calcium score test to gauge my risk of suffering one. The CT scan showed I was in good shape that way, which was terrific news considering the disturbing number of family members we’ve lost to heart attacks at relatively young ages. But the test also revealed something I never expected: I have an aneurysm in my ascending aorta, just above the heart. Stressing the aneurysm could cause it to rupture, which would be fatal. So to reduce the stress on the aneurysm, my doctor and vascular surgeon advised me to change my diet and drop weight to lower my blood pressure. So far, it’s worked: I’ve lost around 35-40 pounds, my blood pressure is relatively normal now, and the aneurysm hasn’t grown in a year. I will undergo regular checkups to keep tabs on the size of the aneurysm, which may eventually require surgery to repair. Until then, the diet — actually, lifestyle change — will remain in place. Resolution goal: Attainable. Because my life depends on it.
– Resolution: Not getting worked up during Ohio State football games. This is one I throw in every year, just in case. Resolution goal: Not attainable. My wife would be happy to explain.
– Resolution: Always be on time. To be fair, I’ve made steady, remarkable progress in this area. My dad was famous among friends and family for never being on time (once, during his college days, friends of his unceremoniously ushered him out of his house with shaving cream still lathered on his face for a night out on the town), and that apple didn’t fall far from the tree. However, I’ve made great strides in this area to the point where I’m rarely late for anything anymore, although it requires constant vigilance. My wife, on the other hand, is the “early bird” type, so you can see where this resolution carries some importance in our household. Resolution goal: *Attainable. *=Maybe.
– Resolution: Go to bed earlier. I’ve always been a night owl. Working as a journalist the last 35 years-plus only exacerbated that, since my work shifts required me to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. Well, “wee hours” gradually morphed into “when the sun comes up,” and I’ve discovered that it’s nearly impossible to break my circadian rhythm that has become entrenched after nearly four decades. I’ve become a creature of the night and, truth be told, I enjoy the solitude and serenity of my “vampire hours.” However, in retirement, I’ll need to dial those hours back a smidge so they’re more in line with the early bird of the house. Resolution goal: Attainable. Like I said, a smidge.
– Resolution: Downstairs clean-out project. We moved into our house in January/February 2000 — and it feels like I’ve been working on the downstairs clean-out project ever since. I swear I’ve had the back room down there cleaned out several times, only to see it once again overrun with … stuff. And now, as another year looms on the horizon, I’m about to roll up my sleeves and get to work down there for the umpteenth time. Resolution goal: Attainable. Only because it’s not optional.
– Resolution: Keep things in better perspective. I’m convinced that a contributing factor to our country’s mental health crisis is the fact that we’re relentlessly battered with bad news 24 hours a day. If you’re not careful, you’ll start to believe that everyone and everything is awful (similar to how the Police Blotter in a local newspaper can paint any town with a negative broad brush). So I’m resolving to focus on what’s good in 2024, that there’s still good people out there who will let you out in traffic, hold the door for you, not cut in front of you in line, and maybe — just maybe — actually say “thank you.” Resolution goal: ???. Ask me in a year.
So let’s see how I — and you — do with resolutions in 2024. If you’re still sweating to the oldies by February, you’re way ahead of most people.