ON POINT: Be it hereby resolved

By Ted Streuli

The Daily Record Newswire

Resolutions are for the birds. The whole idea is to take a particular day and upon the stroke of midnight, or as soon as the hangover's gone, turn one's life around.

Well that's just silly. If you really wanted to quit smoking, you could have done it in July. New Year's Day was merely a handy procrastination tool, and now that the chickens are coming home to roost the idea doesn't seem nearly as terrific.

Dedication being immediately compromised, it's a piece of cake to become one of the 35 percent of Americans who break their resolutions by the end of January. Many, I suspect, have joined that group already. We'll think of you as the 35 Percenters.

This year's top 10 resolutions, according to a list lacking entirely in attribution and compiled by people in Pittsburgh who were struggling to fill some space on a website, are to spend more time with family and friends; get going on a fitness program; lose weight; quit smoking; enjoy life more; quit drinking; get out of debt; learn something new; get organized, and, in the do-gooder category, help others.

The list leads me to ponder whether I, or anyone, would enjoy life more if he launched the year trying to quit eating, drinking, smoking and spending. Perhaps one is not meant to undertake all of the above simultaneously.

Another key study, again with no attribution, claims 52 percent of us make resolutions and a mere 12 percent of that group is successful. I'm not a math whiz, but I'm pretty sure that means less than 6 percent of us will have accomplished anything positive by the end of 2012 and the other 94 percent or so will still be mulling along with our flasks, snacks, lighters and MasterCards in tow. We'll think of you as the 94 Percenters.

Meanwhile, avoid the gym. The 52 percent who think they're part of the 12 percent are taking up all treadmills. They're the ones with the fancy new Reeboks, tracksuits and earbuds acquired specifically to aid in the fitness/weight-loss pursuit, looking a lot like gerbils at Fashion Week. You'll find the 6 percent who accomplished their goal in 2011 running outside in beat-up gray sweats and dirty sneakers, avoiding the wait in the cardio room.

Lest I sound pious, I acknowledge the many resolutions I have made and the few I have managed to keep. Twice I quit smoking for the new year and failed each time. Years later, when I did quit, it was in March. I have resolved to lose weight and failed in grand form. Last year I dropped about 40 pounds, but I started in late June.

We end up, the first week of January, jogging and dieting and saving and organizing and, for the most part, slip quickly back to being our overweight, overspending, under-exercising selves, feeling bad enough about ourselves to have made the resolutions and now feeling worse about ourselves for aborting the mission.

I blame Oprah. Day in, day out, Oprah fed millions a diet of "Be Your Best Self" syrup that implied no one was her best self at the outset. Starting with a "you could be better" message seems contradictory to the self-esteem building facade.

I was thinking that my resolution this year would be to stop and assist people I saw struggling. No matter how late or busy or tired I was, I would stop and spend the minute it would take to aid a stranger carrying too many grocery sacks or frantically trying to corral unruly children or contemplating a sprint through a rainy parking lot without an umbrella.

Never mind that now. I hereby resolve to set up shop selling fancy tracksuits in late December.

Published: Fri, Jan 6, 2012