The challenge is how to keep them
Today began like any other Saturday in 2022. However, as today winds its way towards its finale of the ball hitting the ground in Times Square or, for those of us of a “certain age” in the Pacific time zone, seeing it on television, today’s activities will be different from any of the preceding 51 weeks in 2022. Why?
Of course, traditionally we celebrate the last time the small hand on our clocks and watches reaches 12. This tradition has been “tweeted,” such as the digitalization of many timepieces, but the essence continues to expressed in the 1788 lyrics written by the poet Robert Burns of whether we should remember the people that helped shape our year, and lives, as expressed in the song “Auld Lang Syne”:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Just as asking questions is often the beginning of our learning something, either in or out of classrooms, the timing of the above question often stimulates thoughts of anecdotal experiences that helped shape our year, and lives, as illustrated by the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne continues:
We two have run about the slopes
and picked the daisies fine….
We have paddled in the stream…
Simply put, these types of relationships and ex
periences are too much a part of us to not be remembered. But how?
And we’ll take a right good will draught
For auld lang syne.
This message was identified by Robert Burns some 234 years ago and has become traditional as the ball approaches the ground in Times Square. Then what?
Think of the words of western author Louis L’amour: “There will be a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” I like to think that when the ball hits the ground, it represents the beginning of new opportunities in this thing we call “life.” How should I start?
The starting point was following the pattern of “Auld Lang Syne” of remembering what I call, for lack of a better term, my “successes,” and the far too many “other” outcomes, and search for ways to improve my contributions to both of them. But how?
While I laugh at the quip, “There are only two types of problems: yours, which are all trivial, and mine, which are all unsolvable,” I take it as a challenge to search for ways to improve myself; is this endeavor unique?
The reality is that there are multiple ways that many people create these, from a typed list to one scribbled on a napkin to an oral list, and sometimes your spouse is even thoughtful enough to help you with yours (although my experience is to reframe from writing hers), and these are labeled “New Year’s resolutions.” What are some common ones?
Surveys show these typically these items and the percentage of people who include them.
1. Improve health: 86%.
2. Get in better shape: 83%.
3. Be happier: 80%.
4. More quality time with family and friends: 74%.
5. Get finances in order: 73%.
6. Get more control over life: 64%.
7. Not sweat the small stuff: 61%.
8. More comfortable with body image: 61%.
Since almost all of them only require that the writer change one or more habits, they do not appear to qualify as “mine being insolvable.” Why do they appear every year?
The studies show that 75% of these will be violated by Jan. 20.
I remember learning a lesson from cleaning out a desk and finding a “to do” list from five years prior that still contained the first three things from that year’s list: I should clean out my desk more often, and without specific goals the above items can never be achieved.
An expert said a “Beginning is not only a kind of action. It is also a frame of mind, a kind of work, an attitude, a consciousness” (Professor Edward Saul). How can we create this?
Studies indicate that if you do something for 30 days, just 10 more than the 20 for most resolutions, it will become a habit, and the tried-and-true method is to “Replace a habit you don’t want with another habit.” (Shirley S. Wang). Breaking a habit requires planning as “People who prepare plans on how to reach their goals, which psychologists call “implementation intentions” are more effective by spelling out what they are going to do if an obstacle arises,” according to Psychology Professor Peter Gollwitzer. New Year’s Eve resolutions could be a great start: Then what?
Here are a few helpful principles in implementing resolutions:
1. Select an outcome that is at least theoretically within your control.
2. Specificity of a plan an outcome is better than generality.
3. Avoiding extremes and absolutes may prevent setting yourself up for failure.
4. Only make ones for which you are strongly motivated.
5. Be convinced you can do it, as the strongest correlation with success is the confidence beforehand that they can be done.
Recognizing that “Sometimes it is necessary to make repeated efforts to reach a goal” (Professor Janet Polivy), there are techniques to assist in converting from the same list of unfulfilled resolutions to a simple one: Do it again.
Perhaps Marie Beynon Ray captured the spirit of “Auld Lang Syne” with “Begin doing what you want now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.”
Happy New Year.
Brent E. Zepke is an attorney, arbitrator and author who lives in Santa Barbara. His website is OneheartTwoLivescom.wordpress.com. Formerly, he taught law and business at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”