WOSTER: Resolving to not feel guilty over lack of resolutionsI did, more than once, make a resolution to exercise more. I suppose I should have gone the other way and resolved to eat less.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
As the New Year approaches, I’m tempted — as I am every year at this time — to sit down and draw up a list of resolutions to make my life even better in 2013.
I learned over the years that if I were planning to make some New Year’s resolutions, the time to make them was before Jan. 1. Of course, I learned that back in the days when my New Year’s Eve often included alcohol, so the next day wasn’t a great time for anything serious. Yes, I was making some poor choices in those days. Odd thing is, when I did quit using alcohol, I discovered I still made poor choices. That was the downside, I suppose. The upside was, the poor choices I was making, I was making with a clear head.
I have resolved in the past to get more exercise. Farm boys who turn into city dwellers maybe are at a disadvantage in the exercise department (or maybe it’s just me). We learn to eat huge amounts of food at least three or four times a day when we’re working from sunrise to sunset. In my case, it wasn’t at all difficult to unlearn the working from sunrise to sunset part of that lifestyle. Unlearning the big eating? That was a different story. That was a struggle for years and years.
I did, more than once, make a resolution to exercise more. I suppose I should have gone the other way and resolved to eat less. Exercising more seemed simpler. All a person has to do is walk a bit, right? For me, that’s easier said than done. I walk in the mornings on weekends with Nancy, and we have quite a good time at it. But when it’s just me, I find too many excuses to take the pickup. I need to drop some stuff off at the post office, for example, or pick up the storm window out at the east edge of town.
(I used to tease my children when they’d use the same excuses. The older kids went together and bought a canary-yellow Camero when they were in high school. Although we live just two blocks from the entrance to the Riggs High School parking lot, they found an incredible variety of creative reasons to need the car. Scott early on hit on the notion that if he brought his tuba home to practice, he needed a vehicle to haul it to and from school. I don’t know that he practiced much at home. You’d think a guy would hear a tuba oom-pahing away upstairs if the kid were putting in the practice time. Mostly what I heard from upstairs was Night Ranger or Metallica or, I don’t know, Twisted Sister or somebody like that.
(By the way, when I played in the Sensational Standbys, a dance band in which the youngest of four musicians was our 40-something bass player, we were asked during a wedding dance if we could play something by Twisted Sister. The bass player looked at the kid making the request, looked at the rest of the band, looked back at the kid and said, “Do we look like we could?” The kid wandered off.)
I haven’t made many New Year’s resolutions in recent times, although I'm tempted to do so. I did resolve a few years ago not to feel guilty for not making resolutions. I used to feel guilty for not keeping the resolutions I made. After I quit making them, I encountered guilt for not trying. These days, I try to fight the guilt any way I can.
A recent article in a popular news magazine is helping. The article suggests, with evidence but not overwhelming evidence, that willpower might be a zero-sum thing. If you use too much of it doing one thing, you have little left for other things. So, if you make a resolution to exercise, you use so much willpower trying to keep that resolution that you don’t have the willpower not to overeat. In other words, you cancel out your good intentions.
Until someone proves conclusively to me that willpower is a never-ending fountain, I will fight the temptation and refrain from New Year’s resolution.