New Year’s Resolutions are such odd things. We feel compelled to make promises to ourselves that we pretty much know we won’t keep, but every year, come January 1st, we have the best intentions. We hope for change in ourselves but rarely manage it. Sometimes, though, we do succeed, even spectacularly. I wonder what makes the difference between the successful resolution and the more common unsuccessful one.
Eighteen months ago, I decided to quit drinking Coca-Cola. My husband had heard this particular resolution before and rolled his eyes at me when I declared my intention. This time, I stuck to it. I haven’t had a coke in all this time, despite my continued mouth-watering Pavlovian response to the sound of a can of soda being opened anywhere around me. Or even on television. Or even just when I imagine the sound in my brain.
But if someone popped a cold one in front of me right now, despite my salivating response, I would just say no.
I wish I knew why I’ve stuck with this one. My reasoning included such logical self-talk as
a) soda weakens your bones and you don’t want to develop osteoporosis like your grandmother,
b) you’re gaining weight and soda is empty calories,
c) soda rots your teeth,
d) you’ve got stomach acid issues and pouring five cans of acid down your throat every day is sort of stupid.
The only thing my emotions were telling me was that the sugary, bubbly, caramelly soda made me happy. I wasn’t scared of osteoporosis (too far in the future) or stomach acid (pop antacid tablets after each can) or tooth rot (I rarely get cavities). I didn’t like the weight gain, exactly, but I still wasn’t fat. I’d been telling myself all those logical reasons to quit for years. For some reason, my brain’s logic circuits finally won.
When I thought about this year’s resolutions, I came up with several:
1) Write more.
2) Exercise more.
3) Scrapbook more.
4) Eat less and better.
I thought I was doing a good thing by being rather vague. Wouldn’t those goals be easier to achieve? Alas, no. Reading an article in Parade Magazine Sunday morning, I learned that resolutions should be specific and realistic, and must engage both logic and emotion. You should also adapt your environment to promote success. This advice is based on the latest and greatest brain research by distinguished neuroscientists, psychologists, and medical doctors. Who am I to argue with smart people like them?
My 2010 resolutions meet only one of the experts’ criteria: the goals are all realistic. I can write more, exercise more, scrap more, and eat less. All definitely do-able. But how, exactly, am I going to do them? How can I make the goals specific? How can I modify my environment to ensure success?
Trying to answer these questions made my brain hurt. I just deleted six paragraphs of blather about making these goals more specific.
Instead, I’m going to do what everyone else does: make resolutions, try my best to achieve them, and surely fail at most of them. But if I can quit drinking coke, I think I can at least make some progress.
Care to share your own resolutions? I’d love to read your hopes for change in 2010. Also, if you’re interested in the Word of the Year project, think about what word you would like to be your theme for 2010. (If you have no idea what the Word of the Year project is, click HERE.) You might think my word is RESOLUTE, and perhaps it should be. But it’s not. You’ll just have to wait for the anti-climactic announcement later this week. I think only my friend Karen D will understand it, anyway.