Suzannah's Voice

Turning the Tables on New Year’s Resolutions

The Facebook post of a friend, asking others to share their New Year’s Resolutions, reminded me of what I’d decided last January.  I’d add one thing to my advice: congratulate yourself on the things you do that would be on your list of resolutions if you’d made one.  That makes for a Happy New Year, in my opinion.  

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago. You know why?  Because no one ever follows through, and not following through makes us feel guilty– at least until we forget that we made the resolutions. You image (c) suzannah gilmancan find an article that promises to help you stick with your resolutions, and probably ten other articles like it, but you know that’s bogus. Seriously? Getting up earlier so you can work out before going to work is news? And knowing that helps?

You can read another article to see if you made the same hopeful resolutions others made.  I’m not sure why that should make you feel good. It just means you’re like everyone else. I like to stand out from the crowd, but I guess there are those who want to disappear into the crowd.  This  time, it’ll be a crowd of losers.

image (c) suzannah gilmanAnd then there is Time magazine’s list of  the ten most commonly broken resolutions, which are almost exactly the same resolutions as the most commonly made ones.  If you decide you must make resolutions, stay away from them:

Lose Weight and Get Fit
Quit Smoking
Learn Something New
Eat Healthier and Diet
Get Out of Debt and Save Money
Spend More Time with Family
Travel to New Places
Be Less Stressed
Drink Less

If you’re hell-bent on subjecting yourself to this doomed tradition, why not resolve to have more fun, to like yourself no matter what, to choose your worries like you choose your battles, and to focus on the positive things in your life? I like the bumper sticker that says “If Anything Can Go Right, It Will.” Having that frame of mind will lower blood pressure, and that might be on some people’s lists.

image (c) suzannah gilman

But the way we can truly turn the tables on New Year’s resolutions and live triumphant lives is to not make resolutions at all. Don’t, at the beginning of the year, make a list of things you’ll end up not doing! Take charge! Make an ongoing list of the things you actually didn’t do when you actually didn’t do them!  Turn a negative into a positive!  It is perfectly twisted and logical.

You can list things like: “I did not clean my plate,” “I didn’t have a third glass of wine,” “I didn’t buy that crystal chandelier until it was on sale,” “I didn’t sit at home on Saturday watching re-runs on TV Land,” “I didn’t stress over being caught in traffic,” “I didn’t miss the sunset,” and “I finally didn’t embarrass myself by writing ‘there’ when it should have been ‘their.'”

You get the idea.

So go on and start that list of things you don’t do each day that make you feel proud of yourself and that validate your good intentions.  Unlike that third glass of wine, it’s guilt-free.


All photos (c) Suzannah Gilman

image (c) suzannah gilman




13 replies »

  1. Good one, Suzannah. The problem with resolutions is that they start from the place where there’s something wrong with us. There are plenty of reminders from the job or from media, friends, or family who want to emphasize how flawed we are. Why join the chorus?

    I think self-acceptance is much more empowering and effective (not that I can always manage it). Perhaps we should accept the fact that we are good enough the way we are and stop beating ourselves–and other people up–over some invented idea of perfection. Perhaps we should just lighten up and be the human beings we were meant to be.

    I love your “I didn’t” list. I also like to make lists of what makes me feel good: I feel good when I spend time with my friends. I feel good when I take long walks with my dog, I feel good when I meditate, I feel good when I read.


    • Amen to that, Mary Ann. We are good enough, but we were brought up (at least I was) thinking that “they” (whoever the ubiquitous and invisible group of high and mighty judges are) wouldn’t be pleased by anything about me. I am so grateful that, without my help as a parent, my kids and indeed most of their generation feel comfortable in their own skin. That’s proof of evolution right there. 😉


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