Jot this down on your calendar, please: No head banging.
Pencil it in for Jan. 4, 10:17 p.m., because that’s right about when you will be testing your forehead against different walls, trying to decide which one to bang it against as punishment for failing so miserably. (I like stucco.)
You will have failed, of course, at keeping your New Year’s resolutions. But you really shouldn’t blame yourself, for the simple reason that it’s not your fault. Resolutions just don’t work. If they did, you wouldn’t be able to get a free Exercycle from anyone who ever bought one.
My neighbor, a shrink, explained to me why this is: If you really could change the things you want to change, you would have changed them already. Like your socks: You want to change them on a daily basis, and you do. (Unless it’s winter and the floor is really cold and you wore your socks to bed and now your toes are all toasty, and really, who is going to care – or even know? – if you shove your feet straight into your shoes?)
My point is: The things that you have not changed in 30 years – your diet, your spouse, your socks – you haven’t changed for a reason. Something is blocking you (or married to you or too crusty to take off), and a resolution, no matter how resolute, is not going to suddenly change things.
And yet, perhaps the hardest thing for us to change is the conviction that we must change on Jan. 1, and by golly, we will! We’re going to get out that manual and learn how to edit home movies on the computer first thing, yessir! I’m sure it’s not that hard once you get cracking!
… Also, once you figure out how to actually make a home movie on that damn camcorder. Tell me this: Does the triangle button ONLY mean stop? Or does it also mean record? And if it means both, how do I stop myself from recording over the only footage I have of my dearly departed –
COUCH CUSHION? Where’s grandma? I took, like, a half-hour of her a year ago at Thanksgiving, and now – this is just a whole lot of cushion footage. It’s as if someone put the camera down on the couch and accidentally turned it on because he thought the triangle meant “off,” and …
OW! OW! OW! OW!
Sorry. I’ll just bandage my head and be right back.
Back! And let me formally retract something I said above. Stucco? Not good.
Anyway, to save you from just such senseless self-destruction, I have compiled a list of modified resolutions so simple that you could resolve to do them all and still be OK on Jan. 4.
OLD RESOLUTION: I will empty the dishwasher when I have some free time, instead of waiting for my loved one to do it and then feigning surprise, “Oh! Were the dishes clean in there?”
MODIFIED RESOLUTION: I will stop feigning the surprise.
OLD RESOLUTION: I will not eat any more candy.
MODIFIED RESOLUTION: I will not eat any more candy than the average 9-year-old.
OLD RESOLUTION: I will floss.
MODIFIED RESOLUTION: No, I won’t.
OLD RESOLUTION: I will call my mother.
MODIFIED RESOLUTION: I will call my mother “Mom.”
OLD RESOLUTION: I will exercise regularly.
MODIFIED RESOLUTION: I will regularly exercise my right to press “snooze.”
OLD RESOLUTION: I will accept the fact that I am not perfect and learn to treat myself with dignity.
MODIFIED RESOLUTION: I will accept the fact that I am not perfect and learn to treat myself to Baskin Robbins. Also, more red meat. Moreover, I will treat Jan. 1 just like any normal day, sans pressure to change.
Which means you probably don’t want to get anywhere near my feet.
Lenore Skenazy is a columnist at The New York Sun and Advertising Age.
©2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.