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And now its a new year. As Calvin and Hobbes said, A fresh, clean start! Its like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on! So to take advantage of this great time of life, we point out things about ourselves that we think we could change for the better. Things such as losing a few pounds, biting our nails, scratching ourselves in public...You know, the usual stuff.

So how do we go about doing these things? We think up new, inventive ways of getting it all accomplished. To lose weight, Im going to exercise for a half-hour every night before going to bed. Im going to charge myself a dollar every time I bite my nails. Each time I scratch, Im going to feel very, very embarrassed...Especially if its in the middle of an executive board meeting. Why do we go about doing all this?

Its because it makes us feel good. Were getting something done. Oh yeah, Im not gonna feel fat, have ugly cuticles, or embarrass ourselves anymore. Ive got it all worked out. Oh yeah, no one's thought up an idea like this before." But the real question is, "Why hasn't anyone thought this up before?" I think that's why most new year's resolutions are broken so easily.

Just look at the word. Though it may be old hat for me to look at a word and see a funny flaw in it, I'll do it just this once. A new year's resolution is just thata re-solution. These problems have been solved before. But you're solving them again. Reinventing the wheel. Treading on old ground. Scratching where it isn't itchy.

So you go to work with your amazing idea. The first few days everything's going according to plan. The exercise, the money jar, the...restraint.

But after awhile, your schedule is starting to get a little 'hectic.' Or so you call it. You're starting to do some other things, and you don't seem to have time for 30 minutes of exercise. So you cut it back to 15. Then 10. Then you're just trying to get a few push-ups in before sleepy time. Unfortunately, you gain the pounds back with your enlarged lunches you've gotten after you were promoted, and you're actually worse than you were when the year started.

And about the nail-biting. You've kept up a regular schedule of putting away a dollar each time you go for the fingertips. But now you're not quite keeping up with the bills. With your promotion, you had a lot more income in your bank account, but you unfortunately still used the credit cards a lot and got in debt. You started taking money from your nail-biting jar. Soon enough, you emptied the jar and stopped charging yourself. Now your nails look as mangled as they had in years past. The scratching...Well, at least you stopped scratching yourself. Thank goodness for that!

But now you may think, "You've totally bashed New Year's resolutions. Now what's the point of them?" The real point of resolutions, I think, is to enjoy yourself and have some unexpected fun. Sure, doing exercise right before you go to bed doesn't sound too much fun, but there's that element in there that makes it so people can't resist. It probably really is that everyone likes struggle.

Not that it goes for everyone all the time, but most people secretly like struggles. It's not so much that it's fun getting through them, but it's even the idea that you're going through a hardship. How many students (this isn't just for kids, but adults too!) can you say haven't enjoyed rambling on and complaining on how hard a teacher was to them in school recently. It's irresistible! Not only do you get to make someone you don't like look mean, but you also get to hold yourself up on a high pedestal saying, "Look what kind of crap I had to take! It's amazing I got through it all! I doubt you'd even make it halfway through all the stuff I had to go through!"

So when re-soluting yourself (go ahead, you can make a joke here about 'soluting' if you'd like) this year, make sure you choose some things that you know you'll hate. Only then can you really come out of it all and say, "Man, that was horrible. But I really kind of liked it!"

Questions? Thoughts? Concerns? Dinner and a movie? Contact us.
Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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... And now its a new year. As Calvin and Hobbes s...

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