Learn to stick with New Year's resolutions that wash out

Out of the Woods

Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2000

We all like to think that when we decide something, it's final. But there are always extenuating circumstances. There is always new information you didn't have when you made the decision. How many times have you bought something and found it in a sales flyer for less the next day? We all hate that. But that's how it is with decisions. Things change. And then you're stuck with them.

That's why New Year's resolutions are so often doomed to failure. There is always more or new information that changes things. For me, it's things like how desperately dependent my body's chemical balance is on chocolate after all. Apparently I don't know that when I swear it off. The point is, we shouldn't be so trusting of the here and now when gambling on the future.

Here are some suggestions to improve your success rate with behavior modification in celebration of the new beginning of a new year. Start with easy stuff. Resolve to stop dragging bison carcasses into the house, for example. You can do that. Check it off the list, behavior modified. Resolve to stop eating deep fried ostrich feet. Cold turkey, no kidding. You can do that, too. Check. Now let's warm it up a bit and get tougher. Resolve to stop reading sales flyers after you buy something. I mean it, don't even pick up the hot sheets. Is that so hard? OK, loosen up and breathe, breathe, you're doing well.

Now, what is it that you really want to accomplish this year? You want to stop eating ice cream by the bucket and you want to use the bus more often. Think hard, is a resolution ultimatum thing really an appropriate way to do it? Is it in any way defensible as a reasonable expectation? No. OK, deal with it another way. Sell your refrigerator. If you don't have a place in your home to store ice cream, there is no way you can sit of an evening and eat consecutive half gallons, it simply can't happen unless you live in Fairbanks. Done. Now, lock all the keys to your car inside the car. I know you'll be walking to the bus stop and taking the bus from now on, reliably. Done.

Finally, say out loud what will happen to you if as soon as you declare your resolution you change your mind or read that eggs aren't so bad for you after all? Want to hear out loud what will happen to you if I hear you whine about your not wanting to follow through your resolutions? Not sure? Try this. Make an appointment to get all your resolutions tattooed somewhere handy for quick reference. Maybe you aren't all that resolved? Then back off and forget it. Your friends will thank you for not putting them through the emotional torture of you and your resolutions. Buy a plant or a goldfish. Then don't you dare check the prices in the sales sheets the next day.

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



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