We decided to turn over this guest blog to not just one writer, but to everyone. We asked you how you felt about New Years Resolutions, and you surprised us with some very insightful words. In fact, we were so impressed that we resolve to have you all as guest bloggers more often. And we’ll keep that resolution. Promise.
Some entries have been edited for space, and we’ve highlighted in green the passages from each that we felt were particularly helpful. However you feel about resolutions, we think there’s something to learn from each of the below submissions. Happy New Year.
Dr. Dawn S Holt, Fayetteville, NC
A Clammy Resolution: I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions, but something about the past year has changed for me. In 1998, my oldest son died of leukemia at the age of 18. Since that year, I have not put up a Christmas tree, celebrated my birthday, or been able to feel the happiness that seems to come so easily to others.
This year, I decided to put up my 1964 aluminum Christmas tree, “just for the grandchildren”. I baked cookies with my 6 yr old granddaughter Isabella, visiting from Georgia. I tried a Reuben sandwich, which was quite tasty (I was sure it would taste like sour cabbage). I decided to try to MAKE myself feel some happiness, mostly by deciding to do things that used to make me happy…and maybe trying a few new things. Not quite a “bucket list”…more of a “try it, you might like it” list.
So….this year, I resolve to try Clams. I’ve seen them on lots of fancy menus. My friend George makes them in a great wine sauce over linguine. I always figured they would taste…clammy…or like chewy boogers. I’m going to try it. Maybe just a bite…I don’t have to eat it all if I don’t like it, that’s the great thing about being an adult. But I’m drawing the line at calamari …because I’m pretty sure that tastes like squid.
The Rev. Kenny Miller, Rector, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, Mequon, WI
New Year’s resolutions on January 1 haven’t formally been a tradition in our house for several years. However, as we walk by one another throughout the house, you may hear one of us say, “That should be one of my New Year’s resolutions.” Then we laugh, knowing that we are not likely to actually take on this “resolution”…at all. Usually, these are moments of self realization where one of us is in need of a change!
As I read the Huffington Posts’ “New Year’s Resolutions for 2011” article today, there were even more self revelations taking place. I noticed that each of the 70 plus resolutions were concerned with personal care, personal interactions, or care for our environment. All moments where someone was in need of a change.
New Year’s resolutions are our attempts to respond to these moments of self revelation of something that needs to be changed or adapted in our life. If we have taken time to reflect on our lives and our relationships with one another, and if we take our resolutions seriously, then we may actually have a chance to keep these resolutions. For all our sakes, I hope we all can make these resolutions a way of life.
If we can make them a way of life, our planet will be a cleaner place, our relationships will be friendlier, we will be loving our neighbor as much, if not more than our self, and we all will be living a healthier lifestyle…for more than just a week or two.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Are you going to improve your personal health, the health of your relationships, or try to preserve this Island Home that we all share? For me, it is about the relationships: relationships with our God, relationships with our family, relationships with our neighbor and relationships with our selves whether they are made on January 1 or July 31.
Happy New Year and may your resolutions survive the next couple of weeks and for all of our sakes, become your new way of life!
There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, you shouldn’t put all of your hopes and dreams on a calendar date, that is just ridiculous. The 1st of January is a man made date, just as good as the 18th of April, or the 20th of July. So why wait for this specific date? On the other hand, people need motivation. If a date can motivate you to put your dreams into action, why not?
Personally, I use the New Year to review what I have accomplished in the past year, and recommit to the goals I would like to accomplish. Plus, the days are starting to get longer now, so it is easier to get my butt in the gym at 5:20 am.
I do not make resolutions because I never keep them. I make short term and long term goals instead.
School: goals for the semester
Business and personal: 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. Medium-to- large goals get broken down into steps needed to accomplish them.
I also use the vision boards technique to accomplish what I would like to out of life. It’s about manifesting your own destiny. When all is said and done I can see all that I’ve accomplished right in front of me. It’s very gratifying. New Years Resolutions are like diets and budgets – nobody ever really sticks to them. And if they do, it isn’t anything long term enough to really make a difference.
Every December 31st, I scramble to recap the previous year’s ups and downs, in an attempt to find what worked and what didn’t. I inevitably end up with a laundry list of faults and failures, and hang my head in shame… until I remember that the next day, January 1st, is ready for a fresh resolution for the fresh new year, and is a new chance to repair what’s broken and sure up what’s teetering. And then, instead of lamenting, I take the list as a challenge and begin to make resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are promises to ourselves – oftentimes, the most important and most overlooked promises we’ll make all year. They’re easy to forget about and easy to break. But, they’re also the most rewarding to work towards, because they can reap the richest rewards, both for ourselves and those around us.
This year, my personal theme for a New Year’s resolution is The Search. I will spend 2011 searching for many things: peace at work, peace for my psyche as I continue to hash out making my house a home, a healthier me and, most of all, I will search for the right person for me. None of these will be easy feats, but it’s the self-motivation provided by the promise I make to myself this January 1st that will force me to do my best, and keep making progress, however small.
At a year’s end, so many people reflect on their faults and failures. And while the wishes from friends and family for a “happy” and “blessed” new year are kind, they are simply not enough to guarantee that anything will be better than what has come before. However, with a resolution we make to ourselves – and the kicking, biting, scratching and clawing our ways forward, fighting for everything we deserve, in an attempt to keep this resolution – we slowly start to transform into better people and, in turn, make ourselves (and the world at large) have happier and more blessed years.
Ms. J.B. Bittner, editor, Stillwater NewsPress, Stillwater, OK
I’ve not been a loyal resolver.
There have been years I made some hollow vow about eating less or exercising more. I’ve promised now and then to organize, unclutter and to finally use myriad possessions long tucked away.
One new year sparks an urge to nest. Another carries with it a determination to streamline.
One late December brought a fleeting thought of public service. Jan. 1 often arrives accompanied by a hunger for a greater understanding of spirituality.
But to say I jog headlong down the path of New Year’s Resolutions each time the calendar spins its annual 365? No.
Yet as 2011 struggles to stand on its wobbly legs like a day-old colt, an eyebrow arches.
I can lose that weight. I can change that habit. I can organize. I can reach out to others. I can open my heart to a world larger than my own.
I can find zen and straighten out my income tax receipts. I can slow down and give that still small voice a chance to be heard above a racing heart. I can read the classics and be more diligent in my battle with that soap scum on the shower stall tile.
I can do the things my soul whispers. A day at a time I can be smarter, healthier, more caring, more spiritual – more.
And if it lasts a month, a week, a day – then for a month, a week, a day I offered the world, and myself, a better me.
Chris A. Sutton
Resolution Buddies: New Year’s Resolutions – we all make them, whether we admit it or not. I will eat better, I will save more, I will quit smoking, something every year is decided in conjunction with January 1st of every year. The question is what is the point? In fact, does a New Year’s resolution do anything? My answer, yes, they do. I say this however, as someone who has never, not once actually kept their resolution. This year however, I think I have found the answer to this – accountability. We make resolutions, life changes, whatever, and they are entirely ours, no one else is normally affected by our attempted changes. Instead however, of doing the normal write a list on the dry erase board and check them off as I go, I chose to partner with a friend, make a list of accomplishments, not changes necessarily, we wanted for the next year, rate their significance to one another and a plan of action on how we will implement the changes or “resolutions’ we have instituted for ourselves, and hold each other accountable for them. If I slip, my resolution buddy will nudge me in the right direction, and I the same. It functions the same as a workout partner at a gym, when someone else is depending on you, and holding you accountable, you work for the changes you want not necessarily for the best reason, but you have a much better chance of success. Everyone needs a little bit of improvement, some of us more than others, and in this day and age, where we open up so many aspects of our lives via social networking, the internet, etc. there is no reason why we cannot allow our resolutions to be an open book as well.
New Years Resolutions: No Thank You
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no use being a damn fool about it.” – W.C. Fields
I’m fairly certain Mr. Fields was being tongue in cheek regarding knowing when to give up, but he illustrates why I hate New Years Resolutions: people don’t keep them. Then they feel guilty about not keeping them. So they make new resolutions…which they don’t keep. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to stop.
Every year in late December, when people are in the warm, fuzzy afterglow of the holidays, they naturally look forward to the new year. They romanticize how amazing it will be, what fantastic things are in store for them, & how they will reinvent themselves anew. The stark reality is that for most people, life in the new year will continue on exactly the same as it did last year. And the year before that. Then around, say late February, they are struck with an epiphany that oops…..that New Year’s Resolution didn’t exactly turn out the way they had planned. Depression sets in & many people spend the rest of the winter feeling like a failure. Spring not only brings sunshine & blooms, but a blessed amnesia where New Year’s Resolutions are forgotten entirely.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating complacency. I firmly believe we should all set goals & strive to improve ourselves. However, I feel like the notion of doing this at New Years often leads us to make unrealistic goals. Call me crazy, but I think waiting until the egg nog & fudge is out of our systems makes a bit more sense.
There’s a reason so many people only set goals at New Years. It’s because it’s expected. It’s what everyone does. I choose to march to the beat of my own drum. I don’t need society telling me when I should set a goal for myself. I can take a look at my life in April…or September…& realize when change needs to happen.
So for all of you that do make New Years Resolutions this year, & fall short on them, take Mr. Fields’ advice: Know when to say enough. Move on. Because life is too short to beat yourself up over a silly New Years Resolution.
Greg Smith, Houston
2011 brings a fresh start for me and hope that this 45 year old gay man still has possibility in his life. Putting it all out there, I ended a 5 year relationship this year with someone I loved but was completely wrong for. The consistent thing in my life has been my friends who are always there. One good friend gave me a book to read last year that changed my life and it happened to be titled I Am Not Myself These Days. All of 2010 I felt like I was not myself that something was missing, that I wasn’t on the right road. There was a core message that I was blessed to receive from the book and that was to say fuck it! Be yourself no matter what! I was thrilled when I found out that the person that wrote this book had a successful business and partner with another wonderful person and there was going to be a reality TV Show about it. Of course I immediately became obsessed with the Fabulous Beekman Boys. Watching the show helped me to understand that even though life is not always perfect, two men can be happy together and that is what I hope for myself. You both have given me tremendous hope for my life in 2011 by setting a positive example for other gay men. Thank you.
I was watching Kinky Boots with my friends over the New Years Holiday and the song at the end of the movie, “Yes Sir I Can Boogie” made me smile and I said to myself, “You know what Greg, Yes Sir you can still boogie, I can boogie woogie all night long“. Having done a little drag myself (ask me about BB Belvedere sometime) I grabbed my cocktail, stood up and danced. My new years resolution is to keep dancing to my own beat and believe in myself.
A New Look at Resolutions: Every year, with the inevitable changing of the calendar, a word gets tossed around even more than the confetti and streamers of celebration. To some, the term strikes fear and elicits a cold sweat. For others, they see an opportunity to right wrongs and a tangible chance to make good in their lives. For still others, a cynical pessimism (or, perhaps, a realistic optimism) makes them snicker or ignore the expression altogether, going about their normal lives while simply writing a different year when making out their checks.
The term “resolution,” in fact, holds many other less infamous meanings. Some are completely irrelevant to what we see it as when the new year rolls around, such as its mathematical or computer science references. Others, I find, speak to the different ways that people make, and go about keeping or breaking, their resolutions.
My preferred use of “resolution” is when it is the finding of a solution to a problem. While many resolutions are a basic statement of what someone wants to do, such as losing 10 pounds or quitting smoking, we tend not to say a word about how we’re going to go about accomplishing it, pretty much spoiling our odds of following through, right off the bat. Perhaps this is why so many have such a difficult time keeping their resolutions, creating a vicious cycle of resolve, break, bitterness, and so forth.
If we analyzed our resolutions more closely, and built a “how to” and maybe even a “why” into the statement (ie I will work to lose ten pounds by cooking out of *such and such* cookbook and walking four times a week so that I will lower my cholesterol) or even just take an honest look at our lives and what we’d like to change, making a sincere effort to do so thanks to the excuse of a new calendar year, conceivably our society may be less apt to sneer when folks start chatting about their resolutions around the water cooler.
I don’t do resolutions nor do I believe they are needed. If I want to make a resolution or a change in how I am doing something, I make them any time I feel the need to make one, not because it’s the New Year. If I do make a resolution and don’t stick to it then I made the summit too hard to reach. I just do what I feel is right at that moment and run with it and hope the decision I made is good. If not I change it again! I guess you call that our human right. Make no commitment that is out of reach just strive to commit to something you believe in and you’ll feel right.
I think New Year’s resolutions rank right up there with Valentine’s Day and late night infomercials. They don’t really serve a purpose and are just created to lull us into great expections and then nosedive into reality. A resolution is usually thought of a day or two before January 1st and forgotten by February 14th. Gym memberships swell on New Year’s Day and by the end of the month, the gym looks like a virtual wasteland. I think New Year’s resolutions should be retermed “Positive affirmations for the coming year” and people should have to contribute to mankind during the year. We should be required to make something, grow something or take charge of something that helps another. Violators could be assigned to clean the goat home and groom Ms. Polkaspot!
I make it a point NEVER to make a New Year’s resolution. What’s the big deal? And why should the pressure of beginning a new year constitute a resolution that will be broken within 24 hours? If I had to make an honest attempt at a New Year’s Resolution, it would be to finally quit smoking. I realize that’s an oldie, but I think I can accomplish it with some will power and self-control. Lose weight? Yep, I would like to, but I won’t feel bad if I only lose 10 pounds; which realistically, is the easier goal. If I lose five, I won’t be underwhelmed. I like one I read today from a friend, “to be a better friend.”; This is one I would love to try. Honestly, I have one resolution, and it’s to be happy again. I’ve lost joy in the past three, almost four years. Where did go? I’m not sure. Happiness is simple and it’s never overrated. Who’s with me?
Finally, check out this blog entry by Cindy Petters. It has a great idea for making New Years Resolution Books.