Go for four out of five resolutions

Posted: Sunday, January 05, 2003

The clock is ticking on the new year and you're still agonizing over New Year's resolutions. First you tell yourself you won't make any, who needs them, they're for losers.

Nita Nettleton can be reached at nitan@alaska.com.

Then you tell yourself you're sick of being a loser and maybe just one or two resolutions would help you evolve into the person you know you can be. You know you want to make resolutions, so let's get it over with. But let's do something different this year. I don't want to hear how you will work harder for world peace or that you'll stop putting two scoops of hot chocolate mix into strong coffee and drinking it every morning. No one believes you.

No, I want to hear what specific thing or things you are going to accomplish that will make you happy. You stopping the coffee thing will make everyone specifically unhappy for as many months as it takes for you to give up or die. None of us can wait that long. Think of something you can do that you will remember years from now and say, man, I'm glad I did that. It doesn't have to be huge, just satisfying and memorable. Think about the things you've always wanted to do and make a list.

I looked up some tips and statistics for New Year's resolutions. The success rate is not very good, especially for ones made quickly or at the last minute. You are encouraged to take on self-improvement tasks only after putting a lot of thought into them. And to assign yourself only one or two. One strong suggestion is to try to start something positive rather than try to stop something negative. We seem to be much more confident taking on something we know is right rather than giving up something we know is wrong. I guess that means we wouldn't be doing what we know is wrong in the first place if we weren't OK with doing it. I don't know why I look these things up. I should quit, but I know I can't. Never mind, we already agreed to just put things we always wanted to do on the list.

I got a note from someone today who has been wrestling with a pretty sturdy to-do list for this year. She wants to commit to a summer job she loves, write a novel and raft the Grand Canyon. The novel idea has been beating her over the head and she's wanted to do the trip for years but absolutely can't afford it without the job. Not enough hours in the day? Yes, but she is a clever person and has a plan. She'll book the trip for the end of April, write her brains out until then and squeak in to start the job in early May. It was just a matter of scheduling.

Let's look over your list. You want to learn to juggle, yodel and tap dance. You want to go to a World Series game in Wrigley Field in which the Cubs win. You want to start earlier and work harder to get a really great lawn.

OK, this is ambitious, but with determination and at least one miracle, very doable. I'd say book the flight to Chicago first, but you can do that later with the miles you earn investing in dance, yodeling and juggling classes and a ton of manure. You can multi-task your personal development goals by practice, practice, practicing while you're aerating, fertilizing and digging out dandelions all summer outdoors, where it's safer. By the time the Series gets started, everyone hopes you'll have the newfound confidence and stamina needed to handle the news either way that a certain team is or is not in it. Then you simply hire a neighbor kid to mow daily while you're gone or you drown your sorrows in a vat of hot chocolate made with very strong coffee. Like the rest of us.

Nita Nettleton can be reached at nitan@alaska.com.

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