OK, here it is, Resolution Day. I know it's really the second day of the new year / decade, but methinks very few folks actually begin committing to their annual self-improvement decrees the very first day they say they will.
Now, according to the U.S. Government's "Government Made Easy" website, www.usa.gov, the chronically top ten New Year's Resolutions are as follows:
- Drinking less alcohol
- Getting a better education
- Getting a better job
- Becoming more fit
- Losing weight
- Managing debt
- Managing stress
- Quitting smoking immediately
- Reducing, reusing, and recycling
- Saving money
Yes, they are all quite useful, pragmatic, admirable vows.
Wanna know what the average percentage is for those who actually keep their resolutions for a year? Though the research varies (I checked out USA Today, ask.com and the Home Biz Review), it seems as though only about 10 percent of Americans ultimately follow through with their annual pledges to make positive personal changes at the start of any given new year.
Frankly, I think that percentage skews a little high.
This year, why don't we try something a little different and perhaps attain better outcomes?
My suggestion for the New Year? Once and for all, try following that good advice you've been ignoring from those who have been there, done that - and know best.
For instance, my dear old pal Mary McDonald of Warren, 85, is chock full of sage wisdom - if only someone would listen.
"Oh, I've tried for years to tell my kids and grandkids - and now my great-grandkids - to work less and enjoy life more. I always say that, on their deathbeds, no one ever says, 'Wish I'd spent more time in the office,' and I hope someone eventually listens," she said with a chuckle.
I hope so, too, Mary.
For Abby Rotstead of Cortland, 79, the recommendation that she continually offers but invariably falls on deaf ears is quite simple.
"Cut your sugar intake in half until you're only eating about 8 teaspoons or 32 grams a day. Do this and watch your health drastically improve!" says the retired nurse. "There are lots of ways to enjoy food without all that sugar but just by making this one little change, you can truly lose weight and feel better," she insisted.
I believe her. I'll start checking it out, Abby, promise.
My tiny suggestion? Take less and give more.
Even if it's only by a few dollars or even cents, up your tithing at church or work or in the community by just a smidgeon. In this economy, those in need are the first ones to suffer from tightened purse strings as consumers look for fast, easy ways to reduce spending.
As someone who works hard to raise funding for a non-profit entity and who feels very strongly about giving to charitable organizations, that's my bit of counsel for 2011.
And yet, maybe some of the best stuff came from a backwards little boy who's not even real.
As Kyle and I watched "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown" the other night, I realized that the little blockhead with the heart of gold offers some sound guidance for this new year or any other. Here's what he told Peppermint Patty about how to make the next year better than the last:
"Keep the ball low, don't leave your crayons in the sun. Use dental floss every day, don't spill the shoe polish. Always knock before entering, don't let the ants get in the sugar, never volunteer to be a program chairman. Always get your first serve in, and feed your dog whenever he's hungry."
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.