When you consciously review your year, you may notice how little you noticed it as it whizzed past. To review is to re-view. To rewind, pause, look again. And in looking again, to see more clearly.
You may be astonished by how much happened. And how much didn’t. By how much has changed. And how much hasn’t. You may laugh or sigh to notice that your life remains its usual jumble of contradictions.
In 2008, I gained ————————————————.
I lost —————————————————————-.
I stopped ————————————————————.
I started ————————————————————.
I was hugely satisfied by ————————————.
And frustrated by ————————————————.
I am so embarrassed that I ———————————-.
Once again, I ——————————————————.
Once again, I did not ——————————————.
The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is ———————————-.
The biggest psychological difference between me last December and this
December is ———————————————————.
I loved spending time ——————————————.
Why did I spend even two minutes ————————-?
I should have spent more time ——————————.
I regret buying —————————————————.
I will never regret buying ————- even though with that money I could have bought ————————————-.
I —————————————————- way too much.
I didn’t ————————————————— enough.
—————————————————- drove me crazy.
Was ———————- crazier than ever last year? Or was it me?
The most relaxing place I went was ———————-.
I feel so ————————- when I write that down.
Why did I go to —————————————————?
The best thing I did for someone else was ————.
The best thing I did for myself was ———————.
The best thing someone did for me was ——————.
The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better, is —————————-.
Again, thanks to Mary Schmich for the below call to resolve in the New Year, originally published in the Chicago Tribune. Be an overachiever and fill both out!!
At the dawn of each year, in the fresh air of each new resolution season, my head hums half the time with a line from an old Paul Simon song: “The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.”
The other half of the time, my head is spinning an old Beatles line: “Let it be.”
For many of us, resolution season throbs with those competing intuitions.
On the one hand, fellow slobs, you and I know that life could indeed be better if we just applied a little more mind and muscle.
The body, the spirit, the bank account. Those are not quite up to par, along with—let’s be frank—certain work habits.
How many more years do we have to get it together, slobs? If not this January, when?
On the other hand, my fellow sojourning souls, whenever “Let It Be” is playing loudly in my brain, I hear the truth of that tranquil mantra. I know then that the only thing that needs improvement is our ability to accept life as it is, ourselves as we are.
In those moments, I know that the only resolution required for a truly improved  would be to stop striving and resolving.
Look at the word closely. Resolve. Re-solve.
With our interminable resolutions, we’re trying to solve, again and again, the thing that cannot be solved, which is the eternal mystery and mess of life itself.
Yes, fellow perfect souls, anything you’d resolve today is a version of something you resolved before, so why not just accept that you’ll always have an issue with your body, your spirit and your bank account?
As for your work habits, if they got any better, your boss would be morally obligated to pay you more, which she wouldn’t, which would just make you more discontented, and isn’t the goal of all resolutions to make us happy?
Yeah, well. Eventually my brain always lowers the volume on “Let It Be” and cranks up that Paul Simon song.
Let the fully enlightened among us, all four of them, languish in the perfection of what is. You and I, fellow slobs, need January.
To help us pursue our better life, I’ve devised the following resolutions form.
It’s based on the premise that the most successful resolutions are specific. Each entry asks for one, and only one, answer. If you accomplish all of these you will be entitled forevermore to let yourself be.
One thing I will learn:
One place I will go:
One physical habit I will break:
One physical habit I will cultivate:
One mental habit I will break:
One mental habit I will cultivate:
One relationship I’ll repair:
One home repair I’ll finally get around to:
One work habit I will change:
One thing I’ll throw out:
A second thing I’ll throw out:
One thing I’ll eat more often:
One thing I’ll eat less:
One thing I’ll drink more:
One thing I’ll drink less:
One overdue e-mail I’ll send, or overdue phone call I’ll make:
One resentment I’ll get over:
One person I’ll treat more respectfully:
One thing I’ll spend less money on:
One other change I’ll make in my finances:
One thing I’ll spend less time doing:
And a thing I’ll spend more time doing:
One resolution I’ve made before but will honor this time because I really do believe that with a little effort life can be better: