We all know that New Year's resolutions are smothered and nurtured by fear, good intentions, threats, genuiune desires to do something, guilt, and a host of other personal motivations. We also know that many of us just find last year's list of resolutions, update it to the current January 1, and vow that this year, we are really, really, absolutely, for dang sure, going to keep our resolve and do what we should have done ten or twenty or thirty years ago and never got around to. So, to avoid going "over the cliff," as we say today, here are some resolutions I won't make again this year:
- Lose weight. Oh boy. Decades of overweight, yo-yoing, listening to cheers at Weight Watchers, counting calories, buying everything lo-fat, lo-cal, watching portions, skipping desserts, quitting drinking three cans of Mountain Dew a day (actually, because it had caffeine and caffeine caused a-fib), writing a book on weight loss, buying a library of weight loss books, trying to think myself thin, tabulating food points for Weight Watchers, keeping a food journal, listening to threats from my cardiologist, looking at myself in the mirror with disgust, actually reading a few pages in my library of weight loss books, I'm back where I started. Maybe my reverse psychology of not putting weight loss on my resolutions list will have a magic effect.
- Repent of all my sins and bad habits. Actually, I don't have many sins or bad habits according to my latest tabulation. But check with my wife. But I do not seem to have made much progress in this direction. According to the LDS hymn, "angels above us are silent notes taking." Oh brother. Busy, busy, busy little angels with their celestial iPads and celestial iClouds and digital cameras. Every action? Really? How can one angel then keep track of more than one person? A point to ponder.
- Become neat and orderly. This miraculous resolution is likely to be kept at about the same pace as going over the Congressional fiscal cliff, whatever that is. Some people are neat. They pick everything up. They put everything in it's place. They abhor clutter. They disdain bread crumbs. They can't stand a dirty dish in the sink. They brush their teeth three times a day, floss five times, and use dental mouth wash by the gallon. Then there are other people, like me, who have never had time, inclination, inspiration, or the ability to be neat. I have seven pages of computer passwords, with writing sideways, upside down, in the margins, circled, underlined, several ink colors. Now I have run out of space. I am planning to make a computer spread sheet of my passwords. Some time. I am in the planning and meditation stage so far. I also believe in leaving newspapers and books strewn around where they will be handy. I eschew sorting out the mess on my desk and work table, just as I did through 45 years of teaching school, because if it is sorted and put away, I will never find it again. Besides, much wasted time is avoided because much stuff put away at exorbitant expenditures of time is never needed again. Beware if you are messy and your wife is neat. Or vice versa.
- Avoid procrastination. I bought a book once titled "How to overcome procrastination." But I never got around to read it or even open the cover. Just having the threatening title in my bookcase where it would remind me of my miserable status was enough. I finally donated the book to charity for someone who needed it much more than I did. I always felt that if you wait until the last minute, your mind is sharper, you use time more efficiently, and you are more likely to focus on what is really important.
- Prioritize my activities. Steven Covey made a lot of money and sold a lot of books telling people what they obviously needed to know, viz., put first things first, know where you are going, and stuff like that. If people didn't piddle around so much wasting time and not having a clue about what to do next, they never would have needed to read Seven Habits. But most of us are a sorry lot and we need a guru and an overseer to remind us to get off our duffs, stop wasting time on NFL and NBA, and figure out what the heck we should be doing next. Or, as my son has told his wife frequently, with limited degrees of success, "plan your work and work your plan." I sort of operate as the spirit moves me. If something really is important then someone will make five phone calls and send four emails reminding me or fine me $50 for not renewing my business license on time. Meanwhile, I will have saved a whole bunch of time not wasting it on stuff, that in philosophical retrospect, never needed to be done in the first place and would have wasted a big chunk of my life. What seems important today may seem a small trifle tomorrow.
- Set new goals. I have a whole batch of goals. Some of them I have met, like getting through a long night of janitor work at the University of Wyoming so I could collect 75 cents an hour and buy another can of Campbells's soup the next day. Or asking my new girl friend out on another date hoping she wouldn't dump me. That goal was rather clear. Or deciding I wanted to get a Ph.D. so I could sit in class another four years while my wife slaved and labored to put me through school. My goal now, as I tell my wife, is to remind her and myself that, "every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." My wife never listens to me say stuff like that any more. She knows better.
- To be more optimistic and stop catastrophizing, if there is such a word. Someone once told me that if you remain a pessimist you will never be disappointed and, occasionally, you might be pleasantly surprised. My problem is, the worst outcome always seems like a possibility. I just don't know how to figure the odds.
The Curmudgeonly Professor hopes that he has inspired you to make a similar list of stuff you never have done or never really had any serious intention of doing for more than a few hours on New Year's Day. But we do wish you Happy New Year.