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I resolve to stage a revolt against making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve had it with them; they don’t work for me. The New Year is still in infancy, and I’ve already broken 75 percent of my resolutions.
It’s not that I didn’t try; I just forgot: the pressure of the moment distracted my attention from keeping the resolution.
Take my first resolution, for example. I read that being impatient can lead to hypertension. I tend to be impatient, and I don’t want hypertension. “Patience,” I said to myself as I stood in line at the grocery store a couple of days before New Year’s, tapping my foot as I wondered if the next line was moving faster, “patience is something I could work on.” Thus, resolution No. 1: be more patient; don’t sweat the small stuff. Since Lori and I had already planned to be away during New Year’s, I would have a nice, relaxed atmosphere to begin my first resolution. On the morning of Jan. 1, I took my time as Lori and I casually walked to the breakfast buffet. I was silently complimenting myself on how well I was doing on resolution No. 1 when Lori informed me she had forgotten the breakfast coupons - part of the weekend package with our hotel. “You forgot the coupons?” I grimaced. That initial, suppressed grimace was followed by a bigger, more obvious one when the hostess told me there was a 45 minute waiting list and that I would have to check at the front desk about the possibility of reclaiming the breakfast vouchers. Glancing at the long line at the hotel registration desk, I grumbled to Lori, “I’ll wait in line while you see if you can remember where you put the breakfast coupons.” When Lori couldn’t find them, I decided to conduct a thorough and proper search myself, and voila, I found them... in the cabinet on my side of the bed. “Oops.” I kinda forgot I put them there.
So much for resolution No. 1.
Getting the proper amount of sleep, I have been told, is essential to our health. My five to six hours of sleep a night isn’t adequate, I concluded. Thus, resolution No. 2: get more sleep. I proudly announced to Lori on New Year’s Day - after apologizing for breaking resolution No. 1, of course - “I’m going to bed early tonight.” That was a bold statement for me, and one I had to promptly retract when I remembered that my OU Sooners played in the Fiesta Bowl that very night and that the broadcast didn’t begin until 8:30 p.m. (EST) So, there I was whooping and hollering my team to victory at 12:30 a.m. and preachers can’t sleep in on Sunday mornings, you know.
So much for resolution No. 2.
Resolution No. 3, maintain a more healthy diet, went down with the New Year’s breakfast buffet, as did resolution No. 4, cut back on my caffeine consumption. (Free refills came with the buffet, what was I to do?) I’m managing to chase resolution No. 5: read through the Bible again this year, although I’m already 8 chapters behind. Resolution No. 6: cash instead of credit - good, except for the gas card. Resolution No. 7, journal each day - already days behind, although I have at least located my journal; resolution No. 8: have a book proposal ready by March 1 - I’m working on it. And No. 9, read at least one hour a day - I’m on it. Resolution No. 10 - stop the nervous habit of picking my fingernails - was lost in the excitement of the OU game.
There you have it: as far as I can figure, I’m only hitting .250-.300 percent on my resolutions.
But wait a minute: Isn’t the highest career professional baseball batting average Ty Cobb’s? And isn’t his record a “mere” .366? That means that almost 60 percent of the time, when he stepped up to the plate, he didn’t get a hit. And that’s the best career average EVER.
So maybe I don’t need to start a resolution revolution after all. Maybe the revolution I need is a continuation of the good in what I have resolved, not a cessation of the goal itself. As John Norcross, psychology professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania said recently in The Wall Street Journal, “Keeping a resolution isn’t a 100-yard dash. It’s a marathon.”
That’s it: a marathon. In a marathon, I can get bumped to the side and even trip and fall and still get back up and finish the race in respectable fashion. And somehow in the running of the race, I can feel like a revolutionary, a revolutionary because I resolved to persevere, and even though I may finish with a limp, I nonetheless can cross the finish line, aiming for a goal far beyond 2011.
Editor’s note: Life Matters is written by David B. Whitlock, Ph.D. Whitlock’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is davidbwhitlock.com.