Until recently, I thought that 2014 would be the year that I’d lose weight, shape up, get organized, give more to those less fortunate, stop eating those damn pumpkin cookies, redo my will, never rebuff my husband’s sexual overtures, floss twice daily, read Proust and Faulkner, master Spanish, commit random acts of kindness regularly, and find all the mates to my missing socks. Oh, I was also sure I’d curb my acerbic comments about other people, stop gesticulating obscenely at annoying motorists, write the great American novel, and depilate parts of my body that no one even wants to visit anymore.
In other words, on December 31, 2013, I’d make my usual New Year’s resolutions. And by January 2, 2014, I’ll break most, if not all, of them.
Like about half the American population, I’m a sucker for annual promises. And, like eighty-eight percent of holiday avowers, I’ll fail miserably in my quest to change.
So this year, I’ve decided to take a new tack. At fifty-seven, I guesstimate that I’ve made and broken about one hundred and fifty resolutions. I have not, to date, lost the cumulative four hundred and fifty pounds, run the fifteen thousand miles, embraced Buddhism, mastered Lotus Headstand with Bound Legs pose, nor run my overeager American Express card through the shredder – all of which I’d resolved to do in holidays past.
Why set myself up for another debilitating failure? But before developing an updated New Year’s strategy, I decided to see how my resolution history jibes with my female post-50 peers. Using a rigorous two-pronged approach – both an email survey and live interviews around the table at a recent girls’ night out (carefully timed between the second and third rounds of margaritas), I asked a randomly chosen group of friends what their New Year’s resolutions might be this year and how successful they’d been at sticking to them in the past. Responses ran the full gamut from “lose weight” to “lose weight.” One friend mentioned that she thought she might work on her relationship with her husband – perhaps right after she lost some weight. How successful was this hand-selected sample at achieving their past goals? The results were best summed up by this quote: “Resolutions always lead to chocolate binges.”
Logic dictates that if New Year’s resolutions are more than likely to implode, I should make only those that are less ambitious and, therefore, easier to uphold. Experts maintain that change is more attainable if you publicly declare your resolutions, thus holding yourself accountable. To this end, I put forth my new and vastly more achievable list of 2014 aspirations. I plan to:
1 – Eat bad foods. With great abandon.
2 – Sleep late daily, then spend most of the day on sofa.
3 – Say no to husband more often. About everything.
4 – Be more narcissistic.
5 – Stop shaving, waxing, depilating and exfoliating everything except my chocolate lab.
6 – Start smoking. Camel non-filters.
7 – Stop practicing yoga, playing tennis, walking, lifting weights and just read magazines that show women being active. It’s less exhausting and will probably lead to the same amount of weight loss and toning.
8 – Increase my trash-talking and gossiping.
9 – Lead little old ladies out to the middle of busy intersections and abandon them there.
10 – Be more facetious and cynical.
It’s not even New Year’s Eve and I’m feeling more optimistic about my future than ever. Experts also say that it’s normal to relapse, to falter, as we attempt to make changes. And that we shouldn’t feel bad about it. So, knowing that I may well fail as I set the course toward an unhealthier, more self-centered and caustic 2014, I also resolve to be at peace with myself, no matter what happens.