Happy 2014! Hands up those who overdid it on New Year’s Eve — who are still recovering from hangovers, who partied till dawn, who danced naked on a grand piano? I thought so.
Some of you struggled heroically to stay up ‘til midnight, toddling off to bed with the dying strains of Auld Lang Syne. Some were bundled up in front of the telly, hot rum in hand, watching the ball come down in Times Square.
Some had a quiet dinner at home with a few friends. Not that seniors are party poopers — we’ve already logged our share of wild New Year’s Eves. We’re content to greet the New Year in a relatively sober state and beat the throngs to the hill on New Year’s Day. (Though as far the hill goes, this year was probably a good one to stay in bed.) We’re somehow past it — or it’s past us.
New Year’s Eve is a flash in the pan. The enduring aftermath — the new year itself — stretches ahead with all its hidden potential; a clean slate.
Some respond with New Year’s resolutions. For others the practice is passé, like giving up ice cream for Lent, or sending thank-you cards. If you are a New Year’s resolutionist, chances are the majority of your resolutions relate to healthy living and relationships. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, particularly as the parade is barely underway, but most resolutions end up unresolved. It’s not that we can’t change, or that we are inherently weak-willed, it’s just that other motivators are more compelling — losing weight before a high school reunion, or starting a walking regime in response to an alarming stress test.
Making a list of all the things we want to tackle in the New Year can be temporarily exhilarating as we envision our new selves, slimmer, fitter, smarter, more organized — the new and vastly improved 2014 model! Too soon we are confronted with our failures. Unreliable pseudo-scientific studies show Jan. 21 is the most miserable day of the year because by then our resolutions lie in tatters at our feet, abandoned and devoid of the hope in which we so recently invested them. On top of all that, it’s usually cold and wet out, and the days are still far too short — a good time to be miserable.
The antidote to all that depressing failure is to tailor resolutions for success. For starters, don’t be too hard on yourself. At our age, who really cares what our waistlines looks like? If the extra weight isn’t life threatening, or doesn’t stop us from enjoying our activities, let’s go for that piece of chocolate cake.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with a whole list of resolutions. We all have a limited capacity for self-control. Diffusing it will result in spectacular failures on many fronts. So the answer is to sequence your resolutions and take them one at a time. Establish specific goals and target dates. If you don’t achieve the goal, move the goalposts or scrap the resolution.
Make it a group affair. I’ve always done New Year’s resolutions with the same 3 other women. We have lots of laughs reading over the preceding year’s list, celebrating our successes and bemoaning our failures. We often make a group resolution — to go away on a weekend together, or learn to play the ukulele (no kidding!). I’d like to think the accountability creates a greater likelihood of success, but even if it doesn’t we have fun with it.
Finally, let’s resolve to live fully in the present, to be grateful for our blessings, and to love exravagantly in 2014.
Did You Know? The first ball to be dropped in Times Square welcomed in 1908. It weighed 700 pounds and had 100 25-watt light bulbs attached to its surface.