By MICHAEL MURPHY
It seems that when most people make their New Year’s Resolutions they commit the common error of choosing things that are just too difficult to do. For example, last year one of the top resolutions was to exercise more.
Based on the number of treadmills and stationary exercise bikes that I saw at garage sales this past summer, I’d say that resolution didn’t work out so well for a lot of folks.
Oh, and I also saw quite a number of those exercise mats going for cheap. You know the comfortable cushions that you lie down on to stretch, do sit-ups, etc. I had one but would often fall asleep while lying on it. Though I do believe that I burned a few calories from aerobic snoring.
And how about that perennial favorite resolution of promising to watch our weight? I’m sure that most of us do not have any difficulty “watching” our weight. I can do that while lying back in my recliner right after devouring a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream and gazing at my belly as it expands before my very eyes. But losing weight? That’s a whole ‘nother thing.
Since relieving one’s stress during the upcoming year is also high on resolution lists, why make resolutions that will no doubt increase one’s stress? My solution is to simply make resolutions that are either extremely easy to keep or they are so bad for me that I’m better off breaking them as soon as possible. Makes for a win-win situation.
Here’s an example of how my strategy works. Many people vow to quit smoking during the new year. Now this is an exceedingly difficult resolution to keep. Hence, I take the opposite track and resolve to START smoking which is easy to do. However, it is not good for me and awfully expensive. So, I’ll have one cigarette then vow to quit smoking. Heck, I can knock off two resolutions in about five minutes. Let me share some of my other resolutions.
I resolve that by the end of 2023 I will have less hair on my head and more hair on my nose and ears. I have made this resolution for at least the last 10 years and have carried it out faithfully each year.
To become more socially active, I vow to Skype with myself by taping my picture over that tiny camera hole on our two computers and running back and forth to speak.
Another easy to keep technology-related resolution is that I will spend less time watching television simply by falling asleep in front of the TV even sooner than I did last year.
For health reasons, during the new year I resolve to only drink beer on Saturday nights. Oh, and Friday nights too if something special is going on, like some sort of rare natural phenomena such as a sunset. On Mondays, beer only if football, baseball, or basketball is on TV, so no beer during curling season.
I resolve to not drink beer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays unless, of course, my wife needs the room in the fridge. No beer on Thursdays except for a little to reward myself for how well I’m keeping my resolution throughout the week so far. That leaves Sunday, a day of rest and no beer, except I may need to have a beer Sunday evening to recover from all that stressful resting.
Also easy and beneficial is my annual resolution to start using my credit card more often when shopping instead of my spare-change collection. Mainly because credit cards have really helped to reduce unemployment since there are apparently thousands of diligent people totally dedicated to stealing credit card numbers. I know this because recently my credit card company notified me that I had charged 50 cents to a catering company in Mexico.
Now my memory isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be, but I’m fairly sure that if I had recently hosted a party in a place called Zihuatanejo and ordered one pint of refried beans for all my guests to share, I’d probably remember it.
Related to using my credit card more, I resolve to practice writing my name at home with the plastic handle of my toothbrush so I can get better at signing the screen at the checkout stand with that chunky high-tech pen which doesn’t let you see what you’re doing, and when I ask the clerk if my signature looks okay, she giggles and says, “Sure.”
A final interesting fact about resolutions is that the percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year is the lowest of any age group at 14%. That’s probably because, if they’re anything like me, they forgot to write their resolution down, or, if they did, they forgot where they put the piece of paper.
Michael Murphy is a retired teacher/coach whose columns have won Associated Press awards. His book of humorous articles titled “Tortoise Crossing–Expect Long Delays” is available on amazon.com.