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On New Year’s resolutions and attainable goals

I had some fun looking up information online today about New Year’s resolutions. I’d like to share some of what I found.

What exactly are New Year’s resolutions? I’m glad you asked.

I took the following definition from an unnamed site that may or may not have a name that rhymes with Pickipedia:

“A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

Next, I wondered what the most common resolutions are.

According to ComRes, a polling organization, the most popular resolution made every year is “exercise more,” followed closely by “lose weight,” “eat more healthily” and “take a more active approach to health.” Add up the percentages of people who made those claims and you get 118 percent. Hmm.

The other 61 percent — somebody really needs to work on their math here, or at least explain it — chose “learn a new skill or hobby,” “spend more time on my personal well-being,” “spend more time with family and friends,” “drink less alcohol” or “stop smoking.”

According to USA Today, the singular most popular resolution is “be a better person.” Well, that’s not generic, is it?

I saw a Facebook post earlier this week that said, “Last year my New Year’s resolution was to lose 10 pounds. Only 15 more to go.”

Ouch. Too close to home.

I like to plan ahead, really, and I can be very good at it. When it comes to teaching or preaching, I can plan as far ahead as a year, and stick to the plan, modifying it as needed (and as led by God’s Spirit) throughout the year. When I was working on my degrees, I was incredibly well organized and occasionally the example for how to achieve what was necessary in a course by planning ahead and carrying through.

I’ve been successful at weight loss in the past. I’ve set high goals and met them. I’ve lost up to 18 pounds in one week, 37 in two weeks, increased strength in my arms and legs and boosted my metabolism.

But I’ve also successfully sat on my derriere and gained more weight than that, lost muscle definition and forgotten what day it was as I binged on chips and cookies and watched mindless television. I’m good at that.

I’ve set New Year’s resolutions for myself year after year, and never kept any … except for that one year I said I would exercise less. Successfully accomplished that. I’m so proud.

But there’s something I’ve learned in planning ahead successfully and in failing to do so, in meeting set goals and in failing miserably — I’ve learned the hard way that I have to take life one day at a time.

Novel concept, I know.

As a Christian, I’m familiar with scriptures that tell me to live today for Christ, to take up my cross today, to not worry about tomorrow, to rejoice and be glad in this day because God has made it. But life sometimes has to beat wisdom into me, shoving truth into my heart and mind like a fat St. Bernard being shoved unceremoniously through a doggie door meant for a Teacup Chihuahua.

It ain’t pretty and it hurts.

But the truth is still there. As much as I would like to sometimes, I can’t go back and fix my mistakes over the past year. I can’t even go back to a couple of hours ago and choose a better snack than the doughnut I scarfed.

As much as I try to live in the next day sometimes, too, wishing I could go ahead and run headlong into whatever’s there, the reality is that I only have TODAY. In fact, I only have this very moment.

I can pledge to “be a better person” over the course of the year, and it may or may not happen. But I can set my heart and mind to being a better person right this very moment … and that is a much easier goal to keep.

No resolutions for me this year. Just one step at a time.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com or 601-265-5307.