Friday, December 31, 2010


It’s that time of year, when…lots of people make lots of resolutions that they will quickly abandon, fail at, or simply forget. It’s an interesting phenomenon in our culture, one that I’ve never really adopted. I suspect it might be because I have spent my entire life from the age of 5 in an academic environment. For me, January is the beginning of the middle of the year. The ‘new year’ always begins in August for me – the Academic year is the way in which I tend to measure time movement. So this time of New Year’s resolutions and starting fresh has always felt a little bit ‘behind’ to me. It’s a time for mid-course corrections, yes, but the ‘new beginning’ came 4 ½ months ago.

Yet everyone else seems to be focused on all the new things they will begin to do starting tomorrow. The magazines in the grocery aisle, the morning news programs on TV, the talking heads on the radio have all been full of it recently. Losing weight seems to top the list, followed closely by starting an exercise program, getting organized and de-cluttering, getting your finances in order, starting or ending a relationship.

I get the tendency. Anyone with even a modicum of self awareness is probably doing regular ‘progress checks’ on their life. How is this working for me? Am I getting where I want to be? Why not? What can I change? What can I do differently? But this pressure that our culture puts on us to make a massive change starting January 1 is an odd one to me and, truth be told, one that doesn’t seem particularly effective. If I come to the awareness that I need to change something, why wait until a page turns on the calendar? Why wouldn’t I start now?

I suspect that the ‘New Year’s part of the resolution making process is a way of saying (without really admitting to it) that I really don’t want to change or I’m really not ready to make the change. I recognize that I should or want a different outcome in my life, but I’m not yet ready to change the way I do things to make it happen. Or, maybe I’m just not convinced that if I’m not just a little more patient, things will eventually turn out the way that I want them to. Or, perhaps the real problem is in the unrealistic nature of the resolutions that we make.

Last year I made a resolution. I didn’t set out to make one – it evolved from a moment of clarity I experienced while eating lunch one day at my desk. We were in the beginning of the semester so it must have been the second or third week of January. I was eating a bowl of soup – Progresso minestrone – chock full of all things that are ‘good for you.’ There were kidney beans, great northern beans and lima beans – all of which I hate. But I was eating it – why? Because it was “good for me.” At that moment I had an epiphany. I’m an adult. I don’t have to eat food I don’t like just because it is good for me. I can make a choice about what I put in my mouth. I don’t like lima beans. I don’t have to eat lima beans EVER again.

So I got up, walked down to the break room, scraped the remains of my bowl of soup into the garbage and washed my bowl. When my secretary asked what I was doing, I announced – “I’ve just made a New Year’s resolution. I’m not eating any food that I don’t like just because it’s good for me.”

I have been completely successful at keeping my resolution. I have adapted recipes that have called for ingredients I don’t like by substituting ingredients I do like. The results might seem a little unorthodox to some, but they taste perfectly fine to me and they don’t contain mushy beans. An unforeseen benefit is that I have been even more conscious of making healthy food choices than I was before. Because I know that I have eliminated something ‘good for me’ from my food repertoire, I have been consciously aware of replacing it with something else that is good for me. My intake of bright green veggies has increased significantly now that I have eliminated those nasty, mushy things from my diet. This year’s resolution? – to continue keeping last year’s.

So the lesson for me is a simple one. Take charge of your life and your decisions and own them. Do it now. Don’t wait until the calendar turns a page or until you use up the last of something. Decide what needs doing and do it. Be resolved.

the calendar comes from:

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