Opinion: Realistic resolutions


New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but let’s face it: By this time most of us have already broken one or two and by the end of the month, they’re all likely to be shattered. They’re just not promises with a lot of structural integrity.

Part of the problem, I think, is that we tend to set the bar too high: I’m going to give up chocolate, for example, or I’m going to hit the gym every day for at least an hour and a half with double shifts on weekends and holidays. These resolutions, or versions of them, are among the most popular. They are also among the more difficult to keep. I mean, except for the occasional unfortunate soul who happens to be allergic, who can reasonably be expected to give up chocolate? That’s like giving up breathing. And as for hitting the gym every day, I suppose it’s possible, but it’s hardly practical. As a recovering gym rat I can tell you that the allure of long, punishing daily workouts tends to fade after about, oh, two days.

Now, these resolutions aren’t completely bad. They just need some wiggle room. Luckily, I know where to find it. The one about giving up chocolate, for example – I think it depends on what brand you were thinking of when you made the resolution. Most likely, it was a Hershey bar because 99 times out of 100, an American thinking of chocolate has a Hershey bar in mind. I know I do.

That being the case, you can wriggle around this resolution simply by avoiding Hershey bars, since that’s what you really meant. This serves the dual purpose of allowing you to keep your promise, sort of kind of, while indulging in all the other brands of chocolate out there. I have some recommendations if you need them.

As for the resolution about the gym, it’s plainly apparent that all you are required to do is show up. Nowhere does it say anything about exercise. Therefore, all you have to do to keep your resolutions is go there and stand around for a while. No need to break a sweat since that wasn’t technically the premise of the promise.

Wow. With truth-avoidance skills like mine, it’s amazing that I avoided a career in law or politics.

If you are still going to make resolutions and, even worse, keep them, be sure to set the bar kind of low. I’m going to lose some weight is a good one. You’re not stuck trying to reach an unreachable goal – I’m going to lose 100 pounds by March 3 – and nowhere are you obligated keep the pounds off once lost.

My personal favorite is I’m going to be a better person. This is really the gold standard in vague, easily-kept resolutions. All you have to do is think one less rotten thought and presto! You’re there. You’re already a better person than you were when you were saying all kinds of nasty things about people, usually while swerving around willy-nilly through traffic.

I think that’ll be my resolution this year – to be a better person. All I have to do is train my brain to think nice thoughts about … Whoops. Just had a rotten thought about someone.

Well, that didn’t take long.

I may as well have that Hershey bar now.