New Year’s Resolutions Stink

And I stopped making them until I figured out why.  It’s because they are no fun.  We bust our butts at the end of the year, get everything in under the wire, tuck in the year and then make a to do list that makes us want to go to bed and never get up again.  Enough.  At the last turn of the decade I made three resolutions:

  1. I don’t stand in line
  2. I only drink very good champagne
  3. I only fly Business Class

10 years later, I haven’t done too badly.  I have stayed pretty focused on avoiding things I hate (lines, cheap booze headaches and being smooshed in with strangers), thereby increasing my quality of life substantially.  Resolutions #1 and 3   required a long term plan involving joining every frequent flyer program known to man, replacing all of my credit cards with ones that collect airline miles and sweet talking clients into paying for my folly.  And the more special the airlines deem you, the fewer lines you have to stand in. If I have to stand in line to check my coat, I keep it on. There is always another bathroom in the airport – one with no line.  I conveniently grew a little long in the tooth for nightclubs. I grocery shop in the morning. I do all my postal stuff online.  I have to admit in fact that the internet has been a substantial help in my line standing boycott. The economy has messed with my grand Business Class plan, but although I still stand in the occasional line and often still fly coach, I can pretty much guarantee that in 10 more years I will not be.   I’m aiming high and planning big.

That’s the problem with New Year’s Resolutions people – we’re aiming way too low. We tend to go for the things we think we should want, not the things we really want.

Here is how to win at New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Set a goal that will make you blissfully, stupidly happy if you get even close to it. I may not fly Business Class every time (only when the client will pay or I can upgrade with miles), but I can tell you that I appreciate every moment when I do.
  2. Make it a goal that doesn’t require you to work too hard, give up something you love or magically wake up with a personality transplant.  This is a sure path to failure.
  3. Reach for something fun, indulgent, extravagant.  Let it feel a little absurd – why not?  Just want it with all your heart.  Don’t judge your heart’s desire as being shallow and selfish – if it will make you happy you’ll be a nicer person. I don’t have the research to back up that statement, but you have to admit it sounds right.
  4. Set your big yummy goal – don’t limit it to a year – and then plan for it.  Do something small every day or once a week.  I had a client who put every five dollar bill that came to her in a can for  a trip to Fiji.  She was mercilessly mocked by her friends. She also played the air miles credit card game.  It took a really long time, but she made it.  I still have the postcard.

Here is the way to lose at New Years Resolutions:

  1. Resolve to do something you have already failed at several times.  Change nothing about your previous approach, just state that you will have more will power this time.
  2. Resolve to do something that fills you with dread or terror. Or worse: boredom.
  3. Resolve to do something that you have no idea how to do and then don’t get any support or direction from anyone.

Really, save yourself the heartbreak and frustration. Make life fun again in 2010. If not now, when?

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