I started to make some resolutions for the coming year. I thought that maybe I could try and being less compulsive when it comes to doing certain tasks. I thought that perhaps I could hold my tongue more often when I feel a cruel word coming on. I thought that I could work on being more patient with those around me. I thought that I could become a better human being. No pressure.
That's what I like about New Year's Resolutions: You can start breaking those promises almost as soon as the clock strikes twelve. Obviously the intent is to try and keep these commitments as a measure of your personal resolve, but the odds are against you. A study made a few years back suggest that four out of five people who make New Year's Resolutions will break them before the end of the year. A third of them won't even make it to February. Extrapolation along this curve suggests that our very best behavior can be found in the month of January. Shortly after that cigarette and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream sales probably begin to trend upward.
My wife and I had the clever notion of creating resolutions for one another. There's no way that any guilt or acrimony could creep into that interaction, is there? Not that her list was all that different from the one I came up with myself, but it won't be just me that I have to answer to when I start harping on my son for leaving his clothes strewn about the living room, or on those late nights when I find myself sitting up fretting about the next day's tumult. It's another layer of potential disappointment. I don't mind if I let myself down, I'm used to that. Breaking my promises to other people is a different matter entirely.
I have a pretty good idea about how to make promises that I can keep. Start with little things and try not to make a fuss about the courage of your conviction to be a decent person. Others tend to frown upon the idea that you have to work at remembering your own child's name. But if that's a promise you can keep, so be it.