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Unresolved and feeling bad about it
Scripps Howard News Service


January 31, 2007

Broken your New Year's resolutions yet?

Yeah, me too. No matter how determined we are when we start a new year, our resolutions seem to fall by the wayside pretty darn quick.

We vow to exercise every day, then we oversleep or it's raining, or we just don't feel like working out, then another day passes and, heck, there's no going back now.

We say we're going to diet, but someone brings doughnuts to the office and, gulp, down they go, straight to our hips.

We resolve to drop bad habits, only to find ourselves returning to them at the first sign of stress or adversity or simple need.

We promise ourselves that we're going to be better people, less critical of others, friendlier, but some moron cuts us off in traffic or yaks in a movie theater or otherwise misbehaves, and we're forced to shoot him and - dang! - another resolution goes up in smoke.

That's the problem with New Year's resolutions. We almost never succeed, and then we feel bad. And the only thing that will make us feel better is more doughnuts.

Worse yet, many of us make the mistake of telling others about our resolutions. We reveal our plans with the idea that telling people will help us stick to our resolve. So, when we fall off the wagon or over the snack cart, everyone knows that we are total losers.

The smart thing would be to tell no one of your resolutions, but it's too late now, isn't it? You've already trumpeted your intentions to your spouse, your friends, to everyone you know. Lying might work (unless one resolution was to stop lying), but eventually you'll be found out, the evidence of your failure right there on your hips or on the police blotter. You could fake amnesia. You could ignore your stumble, get back on your program, stick to those resolutions from now on, but who are we kidding here?

No, the only solution to resolution dissolution is to make excuses. Spit out that doughnut and tell your friends the perfectly good reason you were unable to stick to your New Year's commitment. Some samples:

"I'm a victim." This one works on many levels, which is why it's so popular. No matter how badly you behave, you can blame your upbringing or genetics or bad influences or addictions. It's not your fault. You are a poor victim, an innocent bystander to your own life.

"The time wasn't right." See also: "I'm not at that place in my life now."

"I'm easing into it." This doesn't work if your resolution was to stop procrastinating.

"I'm taking a different approach." Cold turkey didn't work, so it's on to the patch, the gum, the doctor, the pills, the self-immolation. Or, move from Atkins to South Beach to Weight Watchers to the all-grapefruit diet. You can stretch out new approaches until everyone forgets your original pledge.

"I decided to wait a year."

"I decided to cut and run."

"The Devil made me do it." An oldie, but it still works. Who can argue with the Devil?

"I never meant I'd stop completely. Less is good, right?"

"Jiggling causes wrinkles."

"Nobody else sticks to their resolutions. Why should I?"

I'm sure you can come up with more great excuses on your own. Resolve to write them down and keep them handy for future use.

There's always next year!


Redding, Calif., author Steve Brewer's latest book is called "Monkey Man."
Contact him at ABQBrewer(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service,

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Ketchikan, Alaska