Set­ting goals as new year dawns

The Boyertown Area Times - - COMMUNITY - Laura Cata­lano Colum­nist

My hus­band and I have long since quit cel­e­brat­ing New Year’s Eve with any­thing other than a quiet evening at home. And some­times it seems like the best part of New Year’s Day is that it puts an end to the hol­i­days.

But while I like to tout my ab­sti­nence from New Year’s cel­e­bra­tions, I har­bor a se­cret en­joy­ment of Jan­uary first. It’s a day that of­fers up a seem­ingly sin­gu­lar op­por­tu­nity to size up the next 365 days, to view the next 52 weeks as 52 golden op­por­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing, ex­plor­ing, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and bet­ter­ing one­self.

Which is why I also love New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Oh, I know some peo­ple con­sider such res­o­lu­tions friv­o­lous and bound for fail­ure. Per­haps they are. Af­ter all, how many peo­ple have ac­tu­ally changed their lives by ad­her­ing to a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion? I can’t come up with a sin­gle ex­am­ple.

Nev­er­the­less, ev­ery year the New Year shows up like a lit­tle sil­ver bell left over from Christ­mas and I can’t stop my­self from be­ing bedaz­zled by the sparkle and jin­gle of it.

Over the years I’ve made dozens of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions: I’ll be fit­ter! Eat bet­ter! Take up yoga! Vol­un­teer at a food pantry! Read more books! Spend less money! Live sim­ply! Visit more mu­se­ums! Be more ad­ven­tur­ous! Learn some­thing new ev­ery day!

In truth I’ve never man­aged to keep my re­solve for very long. One year, for in­stance, I vowed to read a book a week. By March I’d al­ready run head­long into a tome that took me two weeks to get through. I per­se­vered, but in April it hap­pened again. Fi­nally, three and a half months into the year I sur­ren­dered fol­low­ing the stark re­al­iza­tion that, while I’d love to read 52 books in one year, I’m not a fast enough reader to plow through ev­ery sin­gle book I want to read in seven days.

So, ut­ter fail­ure? Well, no, not ex­actly. Be­cause I never quite aban­doned the con­cept of read­ing as many books as pos­si­ble. There­fore, while I failed to achieve my goal — didn’t even come close — I did wind up read­ing more books that year than I other­wise would have.

That’s why, as silly as res­o­lu­tions some­times seem, as bound for fail­ure as they of­ten are, I still like to set lofty goals for my­self and see where it all takes me. Usu­ally, it takes me through Fe­bru­ary, any­way. By that time maybe I’ll have lost a pound, or learned some health­ier recipes or cleaned a few boxes out of my over­stocked base­ment.

I mean, if you never re­solve to lose 10 pounds, will you ever man­age to lose even five? And isn’t five bet­ter than none? If noth­ing else, weight loss res­o­lu­tions are a guilt-free excuse (man­date even!) for toss­ing away all the un­eaten Christ­mas cook­ies and go­ing for long, re­fresh­ing walks in Jan­uary.

So this New Year’s day I’ll spend some time clean­ing out my re­frig­er­a­tor, emp­ty­ing cookie tins and mak­ing lists of all the goals I’d like to achieve over the next 12 months. I’ll re­solve to com­plain less, eat fewer sweets and throw away at least one worth­less, base­mentstored knick­knack a week. As sim­ple as these res­o­lu­tions sound, chances are pretty good that some­where over the course of the next 30 to 60 days I’ll have for­got­ten or aban­doned ev­ery one of them.

But here it is, that shiny new year glit­ter­ing like a disco ball lit with pos­si­bil­ity. And next New Year’s Day, who knows? Maybe I’ll be thin­ner, fit­ter and have a cleaner base­ment. And if not? Hey, there’s al­ways next year. Laura Cata­lano is a free­lance writer whose work has ap­peared in books, mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers. She is a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Dig­i­tal First Me­dia.

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