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In praise of the NYR

Dec 30, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

There can be more to it than an internal proclamation on Jan. 1

This time of year, most people at least pay some mind to the idea of the New Year's resolution.

It has a lot going for it. An NYR is forward thinking. Many of us live in the day, if not the moment, and thinking about something intended to last a year or longer can help break us out of a rut.

The urgent things in life can take over everything, important or not. Taking a longer view can build more-meaningful perspective into life.

Second, a New Year's resolution gets us thinking about improvement. There is a reason the words "nobody's perfect" have taken permanent root in our vernacular. They apply to everyone who has ever lived, or ever will -- which means it applies to each of us, too.

Not one of us couldn't do something to become better people in some way. We all know it. A resolution can get us started.

A good NYR can be inspiring. It is an affirming thing. It is a contract with yourself. It says, if not quite "I will" or "I can," but it certainly says "I will try." And trying makes the world go around.

Also, an NYR gets the year started on a good footing, that is, a resolute one. It focuses attention on objectives, goals, accomplishments. Even if the objective is to be less goal-oriented, being resolute is not a bad way to live life, or at least to try (see above).

Many resolutions fall short. Others are abandoned, or altered, or rationalized. Often that's because the NYR is half-baked, or not baked at all. We get started, but we don't follow through. If that fits you, consider this: Imagine your resolution not just on Wednesday, but on Feb. 1 as well, and on the first day of spring, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Project forward to the fall, and next Thanksgiving. Where do you want to be with your resolution by then? The simple matter of putting a few check marks on the calendar can help keep an NYR fresh and moving forward.

Want to give your NYR added push? Tell someone about it. Tell more than one person. Tell your family, your co-workers, your club meeting, your church group. Human nature usually makes it easier to disappoint ourselves than others. If you know other people are watching, expecting -- and, we hope, rooting -- then your incentive to keep working on your resolution can be stronger.

Virtually everyone has had the experience of a New Year's resolution gone bad. Let's face it. That's probably been the outcome of our NYRs more often than not. That's a problem only if we punish ourselves out of proportion to the failure or, worse, if we quit trying, quit looking forward, quit being resolute.

If "nobody's perfect" is the tried and true phrase that helped introduce this topic, then "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" is a suitable one to start wrapping it up. Very rare is the occasion when something new has been effortless. Equally rare is the failure than doesn't help set the stage for a success story. Try. Try again.

And remember this. The very best thing about a New Year's resolution is that it is a positive exercise, no matter how long the spirit continues to move us. As a new year begins, there is no better way to proceed than with good intentions.

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