Paved with good intentions

Ahhhhh, it’s that time of year again. That time of year that is paved with good intentions.

Loved by the optimist, despised by the pessimist, avoided by the rest of us, a new year has snuck upon us while we were distracted with silver bells, red-nosed reindeer, and a white Christmas.

Barely a week ago we were trimming the tree, filling the stockings, carving the ham, and settling down for a long winter’s nap.

And now this happens. The turning of a calendar page and a whole new year is thrust upon us; ready or not, here it comes!

Paved with good intentions

Resolutions, resolutions, resolutions

A firm believer in New Year’s resolutions, I’m afraid I’m feeling slightly jaded these days. My list of resolutions made grows each January and my list of resolutions kept shrinks each December. Actually my list of resolutions kept shrinks by February.

But it’s gotten where I dread that week between old year’s end and New Year’s beginning as the weight of broken promises presses down with a vengeance.

I used to scoff at those too timid to take the New Year by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. The bolder and bigger and brasher the resolution, the better in my book.

Anybody can cut out a dessert now and then. Why not remove all refined sugar from your diet for the rest of your life? Anybody can take a sack full of clutter to the Salvation Army. Why not give away everything you own and move to a mountain top in the Himalayas?

Why not do away with every vice, pursue every virtue, and apply for sainthood. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution!

Paved with good intentions

Are you one of the 92%

Mark Twain wrote, “Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.”

Twain knew a hundred years ago what researchers have now confirmed. Only about eight percent of us will keep our New Year’s resolutions in 2017. This means 92% will fail by December 31. In fact, almost half will fail before the end of this month.

Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman wrote, “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

Paved with good intentions

So I’m thinking that might not be a bad way to usher in 2017. Rather than trying to fix all our failures and work on all our weaknesses and vacate all our vices, what if we instead strengthened all our strengths? What if we perused our lives for potential? What if those areas in which we do well, we did even better?

Maybe F.M. Knowles was onto something when he wrote, “He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; he who makes one is a fool.”

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Paved with good intentions