As we wind down to the end of the winter holiday season we find ourselves thinking about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. You know, that time wherein we repave the road to Hell with a new layer of good intentions; many of which are liable to fall by the wayside in fairly short order.
Most of us compose lists of reforms and aspirations that are exhaustive to say the least. We cast an eye back on the preceding 11 months and tend to define our next year’s efforts based on the past year’s shortcomings. We resolve to diet, get more rest, avoid junk food (I recently saw a posting that asked, “If it’s truly junk food, why don’t they make it taste like junk?” – good question – that could be a real boon to dieting), get more exercise, etc., etc., etc.. Shortly after we make these solemn declarations, we all too often find ourselves straying from them (i.e. abandoning them) because of some situation, temptation, justification, etc., etc., etc. (is it just me or am I in close touch with my inner King of Siam s portrayed by Yul Brynner?)
This topic came up at our recent open house. (DIGRESSION ALERT!) We invited our friends and neighbors in for a bit of light refreshment and conversation. These kinds of things are always a bit nerve wracking for us because, as in all else in our lives, we have a fairly diverse and eclectic group of associates. One always wonders, “Will ‘A’ get along with ‘B’?” or, “Will ‘C’, who is very shy, come out of obligation but feel left out of the festivities?”
Anyway, despite our fears of generating a social faux pas of epic proportion, the event came off quite nicely. People seemed to enjoy meeting each other, exchanging ideas, and so forth. Somewhere along the course of the evening one of our neighbors, a woman of considerable life experience and wisdom gave us something to think about. As I said above, before becoming self distracted, the topic of New Year’s resolutions came up.
When asked if she had her list drawn up, she calmly replied, “Oh, I don’t do that anymore.” It was almost like an old E. F. Hutton commercial. Conversation ceased. Everyone cocked an ear toward her at the pronouncement of such a cultural heresy. Unfazed by the sudden silence, she announced, “I don’t make a list anymore. I just choose one thing.”
Now, this is the point where most people went back into party mode and resumed their conversations or started new ones. I think they did that because she and her husband were the people most advanced in years of all the attendees. Perhaps there was the assumption that:
- People of advanced years have their act mostly together, OR
- People of advanced years don’t have time for long lists of reforms, OR
- People of advanced years don’t give a squat. They’re set in their ways.
Any way you slice it, the people who ceased listening at that moment missed one of life’s true pearls of wisdom. She went on to explain to a few of us that she doesn’t make a “list”. Instead she makes a single resolution and then spends a year focusing on it. In doing so, I should imagine she builds a solid habit from the reform and thoroughly integrates it into her life.
Imagine how much we could improve and reform our lives if we spent a whole year, single mindedly pursuing such a course. It takes 6 months to form a habit. So what would happen to our exercise regimens, our diets, our self improvement schemes if we took them in turn, devoting an entire 12 months to them?
And how much more successful would we feel about ourselves if we actually succeeded at our “short list” agenda rather than looking back next December, and seeing the litter and wreckage of this December’s list?
We don’t know about you, but our list just got pared down to a single thing. Which is good because, not only does it help ensure success in the coming year, but it gives us more time to pop another cork on a bottle of bubbly.
We thank each and every one of you who have read our rambling thoughts this year. Here’s wishing you a truly prosperous and successful 2015.