1/01/2011

When I am King: Solving Resolving

When I am King...

New Years resolutions will be more achievable.

I’ve written about this on multiple occasions. But since New Years keeps coming around like a bad hangover (in fact, exactly like a bad hangover), I resolved to make another pass at it.

Every New Years, people feel compelled to come up with resolutions: proposed behaviors that fly in the face of everything they’ve done so far in life. They’re going to go to the gym, even though they’ve belonged for a decade and never crossed the threshold after joining. They’re going to eat a better diet... right after their third Twinkie. They’re going to solve world hunger, even though their personal food consumption makes it physically impossible for everyone else to get enough.

These resolutions do nothing except make us feel guilty. How can one simple statement about eating right counter forty years of habit plus a couple hundred pounds of proof to the contrary? And do we really need to add this extra obligation and ensuing feeling of failure to our already tenuous and unhealthy lifestyle? Wouldn’t we do better to just accept who we are and be happy about it? Or at the very least, we could shoot for something more reasonable and be satisfied with achievable goals. Then we can get back to the dessert buffet.

Typical resolutions come in the form of vague and all-encompassing setups for failure, along these lines:
  • I resolve to help the needy
  • I resolve to be kind to my neighbor
  • I resolve to not get divorced
  • I resolve to spend more time with my children
  • I resolve to eat healthier
  • I resolve to lose weight
  • I resolve to exercise
When I am King, people will nail down the particulars of their resolutions better, in a more helpful and more achievable fashion. For example, the above resolutions could be better written as follows:
  • I resolve to help the needy, unless they haven’t gotten a job yet and are still panhandling.
  • I resolve to be kind to my neighbor, unless they don’t move that dead car off my curb.
  • I resolve to not get divorced, unless she uses my razor again.
  • I resolve to spend more time with my children, unless they become teenagers or I'm really busy.
  • I resolve to eat healthier, unless dessert looks really good.
  • I resolve to lose weight, unless dessert looks really good.
  • I resolve to exercise, unless it’s really inconvenient to get to the gym or it interferes with some TV show or I just don’t feel like it.
With these kinds of resolutions that everyone can achieve, or at least have a handy excuse for not doing so, we will become a more mentally fit and emotionally satisfied society. Then we can spend our energy on the things that really matter, like dessert.
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