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  • Writer's pictureJeb Brack


This is the time of year when every media outlet will ask if you have any New Year's Resolutions, and you will either scoff outright or you will hem and haw and mumble something about maybe working out with your budget more often while you read the great books. Then you will forget about the whole thing until next year at this time.

You know why? Because resolutions are BULLSHIT. Just because the calendar runs out and you have to find a new "I Could Pee On This" wall calendar, you do not have to feel guilty about your present life and decide to make changes now. Essentially, a New Year's Resolution is a promise to yourself that you know you're not going to keep, so you are actively, knowingly, lying to your own face. How does that make you feel? (Hint: check out this archive edition of the Blarg for the answer.)

Furthermore, consider the words "resolution" and "resolve". In any other context, they mean "an ending" or "to wrap up"--but in the context of the New Year, they are about beginning something new. It's just another example of why the English language confuses the hell out of anyone with any sense. If you're going to start doing something new, you should call it an "initiation", an "origination", an "outset". (Thank you, If you plan to continue doing something, then that's a "continuation", right?

And what if you don't know if you're really going to follow through with your new program of reading/weight loss/fiscal responsibility? You aren't "resolved" to do anything. No, you "intend" to do it; you have "aspirations" toward it. That's not a knock on you--there's nothing wrong with having aspirations or intentions. A lot of roads get paved with those. It's what you do to achieve your aspirations that counts.

Notice the lack of the word "goal." You can set goals if you want; goals are great. Just be sure to set realistic goals, ones that you can reach. A wise man once said to me (and I think he was quoting somebody, so how wise can he be, really?) "Don't set goals to reach a certain number of dollars. That's not in your control. Set goals for how hard you're going to work, and if you stick to it, the dollars will come." Or something like that.

Suppose you want to lose weight this year, and you set a goal that you're going to lose 20 pounds. Every day for a month you work out, you eat less, and you get on the bathroom scale to see what kind of progress you've made. What happens when the needle doesn't budge an inch? You feel like a loser, like it's not worth the sacrifice, and instead of going to the gym you go to McDonald's (said the writer speaking from experience). Only later (or maybe never) do you find out that your kid meddled with the scale, or added Muscle Milk (tm) to all your food, or your put rocks in the pockets of your bathrobe as a joke.

First of all, if that's the case the kid is an evil genius. Watch yourself. Second, instead of setting a goal of losing 20 pounds as your New Year's Resolution, acknowledge that you INTEND to change your diet and exercise habits. INITIATE a nutrition and workout regimen that you can realistically maintain. SET A GOAL that you will work out for a certain number of hours and eat a certain number of calories and abstain from certain foods, and then stick to it--those are goals you can reach, and you didn't have to make a single resolution.

Also, INITIATE a program of revenge against that kid. He's earned it.

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