You are not alone. In fact, fictional surveys show 64 percent of Americans are pledging to quit doing something, start doing something or some unrealistic combination of both.
But you better get cracking because the informal deadline for filing New Year’s resolutions is coming fast.
Clinical data reveals that less than 9 percent of people actually achieve their so-called resolutions. So, to help you beat the odds, my crack team of New Year’s resolution-ologists has compiled some handy guidelines.
But before we begin, a word of caution: The surgeon general warns that New Year’s resolutions are the leading cause of failed New Year’s resolutions.
Because of the staggering failure rate of January vows, many find it helpful to set the bar low (for example, pledging not harm a tadpole or purchase government cheese on eBay).
Vague yet uplifting oaths are also said to be popular this year. Here are some sample life-affirming resolutions (along with realistic fall-back measures for when they invariably fall through):
* Listen to my heart (disregard brain, kidneys, liver and lungs).
* Stop and smell the roses (spray something on that stench coming from the basement).
* Live life to the fullest (pack your stomach to its fullest).
* Appreciate the simple things (don’t try any remotely complicated things).
* Trust my instincts (avoid thoughtful analysis of my options).
* Take up a musical instrument (put down that musical instrument).
Experts also advise us to beware simplistic-sounding commitments like “Quit smoking” or “Exercise more.”
Instead they suggest being more specific by saying something like “Quit smoking those noxious, cancer-causing, arsenic-infested death sticks that are slowly killing you and that everybody hates” or “Get off your lazy rump and exercise more so your bloated carcass doesn’t totally seize up and die.”
Also, just to be on the safe side before making any major commitments, three out of seven experts urge you to familiarize yourself with the five stages of giving up a New Year’s resolution:
1. Denial — “Dang! Please tell me I did NOT promise to quit doing that thing I like.”
2. Anger — “Not doing that thing I want to do is really ticking me off!”
3. Bargaining — “I’ll give up beef jerky and toothpicks instead of that other thing.”
4. Depression — “What’s the point? I’m probably going to die soon anyway, so I might as well do that thing I like.”
5. Acceptance — “Aww yeeahh! It sure is great to be doing that thing again.”
Now that you are sufficiently aware of the likelihood of failure, here are some things you might want to consider cutting down on this year (pick up to five): binge-eating, belly-aching, procrastinating, filibustering, loitering, nail-gnawing, daytime snoring, whining, dining on junk food, cursing out toddlers, picking at things, reveling in the misfortune of others and compulsive list-making.
And if you haven’t done so already, quitting the following things is said to be “in” this year: road rage, bubblegum cigars, hat speech (please, don’t judge people by their headgear), weekly MRIs, obsessive “jonesing,” extreme slouching, weekend cannibalism, getting suckered by Congress and finishing sentences with the word “boom!”
Recognizing that the start of a new year makes many people more vulnerable to “the blues” (or what psychologists call “the blahs”), it is widely recommended that you avoid the following behaviors: drowning your sorrows in liquor and leftover candy canes, smothering your sorrows in marshmallows, strangling your sorrows with licorice, self-immolating your sorrows with flaming scorpion bowls.
Finally, if ridding yourself of some disgusting habit, taking a course in taxidermy or mastering Mandarin Chinese is not your thing, here are a couple of simple, worthwhile New Year’s resolutions:
— John Breneman