02 January, 2012

Happy New Year!

I see a lot of writers resolving to, for example, write more, Finish That Novel, and so on. I feel like I resolved to do that back in July when I began writing this novel, and my determination to finish it and see it published hasn't dwindled since then. It wasn't a conscious decision; it was like a switch flipped and I realized that I really wanted this, and it would only happen if I buckled down and did it.

When it comes to New Year's Resolutions, if I try to make too many of them, I end up not following any of them. But one or two reasonable, specific goals, I know I can accomplish, because I've done it before. They have to be specific, because otherwise it's too easy to cheat by bending the rules and claiming that whatever it is you're doing meets that goal. "Eat less" is a terrible resolution, because it's so easy to say, "Well, I'll eat this cookie, and then I'll just not have any more for a week." The next day, it's "Okay, I'll eat THIS cookie, and..."

Eight or nine years ago, I resolved one New Year's Eve not to go to McDonald's for an entire year. And I managed it. Never set foot in a McD's, not once, for an entire calendar year. (And no cheating by having someone bring it to me.) I had previously gone there at least once a week, but after a couple of weeks of not going, I didn't really miss it. The following year I went to McD's a couple of times, maybe three or four the whole year. Since then, I don't think I've gone more than once or twice a year at most, and in the last two or three years I haven't gone at all (except once a year or two ago, when co-workers went there, and I was just too lazy to go somewhere else).

The goal wasn't "no fast food"; I still went to Jack-in-the-Box, Burger King, In 'N' Out, and so on. I still ate processed, pre-packaged, unhealthy crap all the time. But I managed to break away from that one particular chain, and it taught me that if I could break away from one, couldn't I break away from them all?

Last year, one of my resolutions was to not eat the free cake and ice cream that the company I work for gives out at the monthly birthday celebration. And I managed it. Again, a small goal; it was only relevant once a month anyway, and I was tempted a few times, but reminded myself that I'd resolved not to do it, for health reasons (dairy causes problems for me, I've figured out).

This year, my resolution (a joint resolution with my wife) is that we both go to the gym twice a week. We've got a membership to a gym that's a ten-minute walk from our house, and it's open 5 AM to midnight most days, so it's not hard. The only thing that can stand in our way is ourselves. We tend to spend most evenings planted in front of our computers, doing non-urgent things, so there's no reason we can't both manage to get out twice a week to work out. Again, it's both reasonable and specific, and I think we'll be able to manage it, especially if we both take on the task of reminding the other that it's their turn to go to the gym tonight.

What's your resolution this year?

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