Resolving Unresolved Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions used to be kind of fun and interesting.

If you were anything like me, these things to be resolved would begin as last minute observations and future hopes I would forge into a mini-contract from me to me. I would actually tally a list of small and/or large goals scrawled on paper and seal them into an envelope. Generally this document of sudden importance included a promise to oneself of some kind improvement over the previous calendar year — which seemingly vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

At year’s end, I would open my envelope to review what I had resolved for the year.

And if you’re like me, not much in any of the to do list got done. Despite the epic failure of the previous promises, I would regroup and assemble my hopes for the ‘New Year’ and write to me again.  Rinse and repeat disappointment adds up pretty fast when reviewing all of those lost opportunities to be a better me and climb those big dreams of a dreamy, bright future.

Life happens and as such it wears down that youthful optimism.  About fifteen years ago, I ripped open the last of my resolution lists and realized the magical turning of the calendar at the end of New Year’s Eve isn’t really magical.

If you’re like me, at some point, you sat down to do a list of those end of year promises and essentially said, “Screw this, I’m going to wing it this year.”

Of course, a decade or so of “winging it” produces eerily similar results lists of resolutions.

So when life gets so busy and begins to pass one by, where does a person go when goals go unmet and the improvement meter hasn’t budged in months or years?

Perhaps an evolving and well thought out personal blog is the place to be. Maybe promises or resolutions made in the public eye or the prying eyes of the ever watchful world wide web will push me to do better and be better.

Or not.

What if the path of western civilization philosophy has led my life strategy astray?

You know the basics. We all need to strive for perfection, be the best, be rich, be the most wise, and be the strongest. Get all A’s in school, be the best society can offer, drive the hot car, buy the biggest house possible and be the boss. The standards are set high, and if you can’t be perfect, try to be as close to it as possible.

No participation trophies in life. Win it all or you are a failure.

Right? I mean that’s not the exact mantra of our current world, but it sure feels like the outline I grew up with.

Many of my resolutions are unresolved. My goals, based on the level of perfection I was taught to aim for are generally unmet.  I got a bunch of A’s in school. But I failed some classes too. The cycle continues through work – promotions, demotions, fired and failed to or impossible health and beauty standards set by photoshopped perfect people on all of the magazine covers. How rich is rich these days? Billionaire or bust?

And yet, with each New Year, we can do a slight if not full reset. A promise of a bigger, brighter more perfect tomorrow.

We should strive for better. We should aim high. I liked all the A’s I got. I enjoyed a quick climb up a corporate ladder. I love winning and when my teams win.

On the flip side, losses happen. Pain happens. Reality can be cruel when our model of ultimate achievement breaks down.

I’ve learned it is okay I didn’t hit all my improvement goals in a timely fashion. It is okay to forgive me for not hitting every goal – yet. Maybe unmet resolutions are a good thing. Perfection sounds great, but maybe it is cool to be human, flaws and all.  I’ve learned from those crazy lists of promises is — not to make any crazy lists of promises to myself or anyone else.

I generally resolve to do better as available.

Improvement still works on a Wednesday morning in the middle of June. Or tomorrow afternoon while stuck in traffic. Better can happen being nice to the cashier at the gas station or a random act of kindness to folks any day of the year.

Little things here and there. No big lists, no big letdowns, and no impossible standards basically means I don’t let myself down with a list of things I hoped to accomplish in a single year. Time flies anyway, is a year enough time to get it all done?

Now I aim for good stuff like love more, forgive often, hug good people and try again the next morning.

If you’re getting older like me, maybe the reality of simply dusting ourselves off after mistakes is a good start. Or the fact that a New Year is a good opportunity to be a best version of ourselves, but so is next Tuesday night.