In his first piece of the New Year, Dan takes a look at those wonderful and scary white lies we call New Year's Resolutions. Many of us pile exaggeration on top of our un-obtained goals and we end up with three or four promises made on New Year's Eve that we know will never happen, even as we are telling them to our friends and family. Well, this year, he has a suggestion that should allow everyone to accomplish their New Year's Goals.

Since I missed you last week, this will be my first official post of the New Year, 2011. So, for all of you who read my lowly column, Happy New Year! Along with the plastic horns and paper hats, watching Dick Clark, and the usually cheap champagne, there is something else that comes along with celebrating the New Year – resolutions!

The Babylonians would make agreements to improve themselves in the year to come. The most popular resolution on the board at that time was the returning of borrowed farm equipment to friends and neighbors

Now, to many of us out there, “resolution” is a four-letter word. Every time the year changes and we watch the ball drop, inevitably, someone asks what our new year’s resolutions are. Right then, something interesting happens. Everyone, from the most pious priest right down to the least honorable thief, turn into well-seasoned, fully certified, pro-bowl grade, liars – and we do it with a smile. On that night of nights, each and every one of us becomes a fibber of epic proportions, and the worst part is we all know we are doing it as it happens. Of course, everyone says that New Year’s Resolutions are made to be broken, but that does not lessen the fact that we tell ourselves the most outrageous fairy tales once a year.

So, it’s time for a history lesson. I did some research on New Year’s Resolutions. Internet research, not library research (read: Wikipedia). According to my extensive and exhausting studies, New Year’s Resolutions began all the way back in ancient Babylon, when the new year started just after the Spring Equinox. The beginning of spring was a logical time to start a new year since it was planting time for the crops, and all the farm and wild animals were giving birth. The Babylonians would make agreements to improve themselves in the year to come. The most popular resolution on the board at that time was the returning of borrowed farm equipment to friends and neighbors — a resolution that still holds water even today. (John, give me back my Eddie Izzard tape, just buy the damn thing, already.)

Later, during the Roman Caesar period, Janus, the god of gates, doorways, beginnings, and endings, became symbolic for the New Year and its resolutions. Janus had two faces that could look into the past and the future simultaneously. With Janus looking down, weighing your past against your possible future, it was thought that whatever an individual did or ate on the first day of the year would affect the luck for the coming months. With the New Year’s parties lasting twelve days back then, most of us would be in serious trouble. Then again, I’ve been to some New Year’s Eve parties that seemed to go on for twelve days.

Whatever the specific origins of New Year’s Resolutions are, it makes no difference really, as it is simply common sense and human nature to want to start bettering yourself with a clean slate on day one of a new year. Losing weight or exercising more, eating less or working more, spending less money or saving for a house, or becoming the first man in the world to eat an entire swing set – the resolutions we make are usually to do the opposite of what we tend to do the most. As common sense dictates, making resolutions using this method does not produce the best success rate. We know, deep down, that the likelihood of obtaining the goals we set on New Year’s Eve is small, but it makes us feel like less of a waste of space when we voice those goals. Speaking them out loud not only re-assures us, but it lets the world know that we still have those goals set somewhere in the back of our minds, and we haven’t given up on obtaining the quite yet. In other words, “don’t write me off as a simple shoe-salesmen just yet, mom.”

Well, this year, I made a resolution, too. Except this resolution was not one of my usual “become a rich and famous author and marry a supermodel and have bratty kids with a sense of entitlement” kind of resolution, but more of an “I might actually be able to do this” resolution. This year, I have resolved to achieve. That’s it, just “achieve.” I know, it’s kind of like wishing for more wishes, but bear with me.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis makes it so that the words “stable” and “my life” rarely appear in the same sentence. So many of my plans have been changed or completely discarded because of the disease I live with. This makes keeping my resolutions very difficult, if not impossible. So, instead of setting yet another crazy, unobtainable, goal this year, I am going to achieve something. What that something is going to be, I have no idea, but I promise you that I will do it! It may be something as great as getting one of my authored works published, or it may be something as small as getting my left foot fixed so that I can fit into a regular shoe. The specifics don’t matter, the fact that I’m doing it at all gets me the check mark in the “New Year’s Resolutions Completed” column.

boy hammering finishing project

So many of us have unfinished projects and unattained goals in our lives. My guess is that there is not one person among all seven of my readers who does not have some unfinished business that they would like to complete. Whether it be some pie-in-the-sky dream from high school, or that motorcycle that sits in pieces dirtying up your garage, all of you can think of one thing that needs to be done. We all live such a hustle-and-bustle life in this age of the information superhighway that the projects we leave abandoned on the shoulder can frequently be completed with a minimum of effort.

So, this year, resolve that you will move your life, career, or knowledge forward somehow. You don’t have to pin it down at all, and the best part is, you can make it retro active. If you finish a project you have been working on then you can say “voila!,” and make that the fulfillment of your resolution. See how easy I’m making it for all of you? As for me, I will try to get my work published, and I will do my best to get my left foot re-shaped to a more-normal silhouette, and I will even do my best to get my Eddie Izzard tape back. But, even if I am not able to accomplish any of those tasks, I will still be able to wake up on New Year’s Eve 2011 with my head held high (and then eight of you can cheer me on!). Happy New Year once again to all of you, and thank you for reading my long and rambling words every other week for the past year. It is a dream that I never would have believed obtainable. Don’t worry, though. Those of you who cannot get enough can rest assured I’m certainly not finished chewing up the world and spitting it out onto paper for all of you just yet. More to come, I promise!