Resolving not to make a resolution

By: Alison Dunn Jan 04, 2011
  Editorial
Resolving not to make a resolution

The New Year is only four days old and I’ve already broken my resolution.

I know, I know. Making a New Year’s resolution is often an exercise in futility. Research in the UK a few years back found that only 12 per cent of us who make resolutions actually keep them. (Don’t believe me? Check out “Why bother with resolutions?” here on Health Local.) Be honest. You’re probably guilty of breaking one or two yourself, aren’t you?

Typically, the top resolutions seem to be the same two things over and over again: lose weight and quit smoking. Why are we so obsessed with these two things? I think it’s because we know these are two areas where we’re often failing ourselves and our health, and two places where we believe we can control the outcome.

So every January, we resolve that this year will be different. This year will be the year we shed the last 10, 20, 30 or more pounds. The year we butt out for good. The year where, come New Year’s Eve we say, “I did it. I am a different person today than I was last year.”

Then comes Jan. 4, and the resolution is out the window again. That “just one cookie” ends up making us slide back into our old eating habits. We light up just one smoke and before we know it, we’ve bought a pack. Whatever the resolution, by the time today rolls around, we have somehow broken it.

That’s why I determined that this year would be different. This year, I wasn’t going to focus on what I was doing wrong, but on what I do right. I resolved not to make a resolution – what I felt was the most freeing resolution of all. If I don’t make a resolution, I can’t break it, right?

But last week, I had a chance to read a great article right here on Health Local. Now, I had edited and proofread this article a few months ago, but I had simply gotten it ready for publication on our site and never thought of it again. Last Friday, we published it as our new Lifestyle article for the week and I had a chance to read it again.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s called “The granddaddy of all New Year’s Resolutions.” Written by well-known Canadian social worker (and star of Slice Network’s Newlywed, Nearly Dead) Gary Direnfeld, it’s all about the one New Year’s resolution you CAN make that will change your life forever. Forget losing weight or quitting smoking – if you make this resolution, Direnfeld says, you can do all that and more.

What’s his magic formula for success? It’s not magic, he says. It’s living your life with integrity. It’s making every single decision in your life one of integrity. Before you do something, ask yourself: “Will this choice enhance my life and that of those I love? Or will it lead me to despair?” And, more importantly, if you’re on your deathbed, faced with every choice you’ve ever mad, how will it make you feel? Can you die with integrity or not?

That’s very sound, honourable advice: to make every decision in your life with integrity and honesty. It sounds wonderful to me, and after reading Direnfeld’s advice, I found myself resolving that this year – and every year – I would put myself to the test. I would hold myself up to this standard of integrity and live my life that way. Because when I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to have any regrets at all.

Except in making this resolution, I suddenly realized – I’ve broken my resolution not to make any resolutions!

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.