Exercise more. Eat healthier. Save more money.
According to a recent poll, these are the three most popular New Year’s resolutions. Duh. We didn’t need a global data company to tell us that. The poll reported that only about 10 percent of people stick to all of their resolutions. We’re not surprised, because we’re among the 90 percent who fall off the wagon.
So this is not an article about how we’re resolving to cook healthy quinoa casseroles for dinner. We no longer do New Year’s resolutions because we’ve been there — and then not done that. Take our pledge to have a low-cal smoothie for breakfast instead of a bagel with cream cheese — that lasted just one week.
Indeed, there is nothing compelling about January 1 to make us resolve to eat healthier, get more exercise, or save more money. If we haven’t been motivated to do these things for the past 364 days, why would we start now? We’ve learned that when we make New Year’s resolutions only to break them, it just gives us another thing to feel bad about.
These days, we don’t make resolutions for things we know we won’t do. But when our kids were school-age, we were not commitment-phobes. They had interests and we were drafted to support them, like it or not. We couldn’t disappoint our kids.
So we drove to choir practice three times a week, wrote the robot club newsletter, and stood by the river at 6 a.m. to watch the crew race. We wouldn’t dare give up on those commitments. We were happy to help our kids eat, save, and play better — or at least have fun exploring all those activities they loved at the time.
Now as adults, we should treat ourselves the way we treated our kids. If we vow to change our routine it has to be fun, not something to suffer through — like dieting or budgeting. In past years, we made commitments to ballroom dancing lessons, glass-blowing classes, Spanish language instruction, and cooking for two on a budget.
We knew we were never going to have a show at MOMA or be on Dancing With the Stars, but we relished meeting inspiring, artistic people in class, and discovered that having fun dancing is just as important as having rhythm.
In the midst of these passions, it seemed like we would never give them up. And then one day, we did. We stowed away the box of wooden stamps in a desk drawer, and hung the blue sequined cha-cha dress in the cedar closet.
When we take out the art supplies on a rainy afternoon or see the dress in the attic, we recall those commitments fondly. We don’t feel bad that we didn’t sign up for the next set of lessons. We appreciated the opportunity to learn something new.
Children go through intense phases that stop just as suddenly as they start. They are well-documented in every baby book — like the months when our preschooler thought poop was the funniest word and said it over and over again.
But “phase” doesn’t seem like the right word for our adult stages of development. We prefer to think of them like chapters in a book we love. When we come to the end, we’re a little let down, but we have a whole list of recommended books that we want to read next.
As 2019 approaches, that’s where we are right now. We are resolved to not make resolutions, but we are on the look-out for what’s next. And we’ve found a few things we can get behind.
When we order lunch, we’ll get it in a bowl, not on bread. We’ll sign up for the pickleball league, and we’ll remember to do our online shopping through ebates. And if we manage to eat healthier, get more exercise, or save money in the process — well then, we’ve kept those resolutions after all.
Ellen Scolnic and Joyce Eisenberg, known as The Word Mavens, are the authors of “The Whole Spiel: Funny essays about digital nudniks, seder selfies and chicken soup memories.” They can be reached via thewordmavens.com.