Yes, I CAN!
Seems as though New Year's resolutions are like SlimJims, the dried beef jerky strips: you either love 'em, or you hate 'em.
There was a good article on Spark in favor of resolutions:
And I've seen about an equal number of essays that disparage resolutions.
I know, you can't wait for me to check in with my two cents' worth. My opinion: Yes. Make resolutions. BUT - do them rationally.
Now, some people are put off by the very word 'resolutions.' Maybe it conjures up failures from years past, or the assignment of some English teacher who required you to come up with three then expand on them.
Many of the same people who cavalierly dismiss resolutions will enthusiastically endorse goals, however, which leads me to ask: is there any real difference? Aren't resolutions, and goals, and targets - and aims, challenges, objects - essentially saying the same thing?
My dictionary says a resolution is, among other things, a decision. There's no better time than January first to see the glass as half-full, because there is great motivation to be found in the fresh start / clean slate of a new year.
Set some resolutions along the lines of the Spark article linked above, or try using the 'SMART Goals' technique to come up with resolutions. You remember SMART, the acronym for 'Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Realistic - Timed.'
Your resolutions should be specific, in the sense of giving you some guidelines to follow. It's all well and good to decide you 'will become healthier in 2012.' But give yourself some direction by listing a few ways you can become healthier, such as becoming more fit or losing weight or working to reduce your blood pressure.
Measurable: once you have your specifics in place, you can determine the best ways to measure progress. Remember, if one of your resolutions is to lose weight, the scale may not be the best method to track progress, so give measurable some thought.
And there's no sense in setting yourself goals you cannot achieve. 'Become a perfect size 2' may not be possible, but 'Fitting into my favorite jeans' might be attainable. Only you can decide which resolutions are truly possible for you, and that leads directly on to--
--realistic. Don't set the bar so high you set yourself up for failure. If you've been leading a sedentary lifestyle, is it realistic to state 'I will run a full marathon in six months'? Instead, narrow down your aspirations to a more realistic level. 'I will walk 10,000 steps per day' may be more realistic, and may even help you ultimately achieve a goal beyond the initial resolution.
The fly in the ointment could be 'Timed.' Plenty of advice out there will say not to give yourself a deadline - and plenty of equally valid advice will tell you always to set a deadline. This is where 'realistic' and 'attainable' can be useful elements. Give yourself a target time to aim for - but try to work out what interim steps you need to get to the target date, then work out how long each of those 'mini-goals' might take you.
Sure, you want to be slender, fit, toned, healthy - who doesn't? But the best encouragement and motivation for self-determination can be found in resolutions you set to challenge yourself on your way to improvement.
Spark has another good article entitled 'The Worst New Year's Resolutions You Can Make.'
It will give you help on the pitfalls to avoid when drawing up your own 2012 resolutions.
You know what our old friend Rob Browning said. 'A [person's] reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?' Or as the popular saying goes, 'Always aim for the moon: even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.'
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are! I'm wishing you the best and brightest of new years - carpe annum!