I■ Dave Porter / Contributed
t’s that time again to make our New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make resolutions, but I think about them. I find that resolutions are much easier to live up to if I don’t actually make them.
To make a resolution is to acknowledge that there is something imperfect about me and that I have the ability to change it. I don’t think I need an annual declaration of my flaws. I think my flaws do a pretty good job of declaring themselves.
Obviously, nobody is perfect and we all make choices, but I figure I can make those perfecting choices on the fly.
I could resolve to make fewer mistakes, but if that were something I could control, we wouldn’t call them mistakes. Resolving to make fewer of them suggests that they were purposeful before. Can you make a purposeful mistake?
We all make poor decisions on occasion, but we don’t typically know they are wrong until after we make them. Resolving to do better is resolving to be smarter than I actually am. Or at least to be more careful, but I don’t think I’m particularly reckless now.
I can look at the root causes of mistakes. For me, they’re usually caused by sleep deprivation, which is caused by poor planning, which is caused by procrastination. So, I could resolve to procrastinate less. I will do that. Later.
Truth is, I’m really good at procrastination. I don’t want to brag, but I procrastinate almost perfectly. I make very few mistakes in regard to putting off work. Since most of my procrastination is work-related, I think I can claim professional status. I could teach classes on how to do it. I could publish a book on excuses that really work.
Procrastination and I are old friends. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. When I have a really productive day, I feel like I’ve neglected my friend.
My favorite excuse is what I call “me time.” I also use the title “mental health break.” When I have a stack of papers to sort and three stories to write and a deadline looming, I watch a movie. That’s “me time.”
We all make poor decisions on occasion, but we don’t typically know they are wrong until after we make them. Resolving to do better is resolving to be smarter than I actually am.”
Work will always be there, so there’s no use in tending to it constantly. It’s a well that never goes dry. I could do all the work there is to do, and there would be more work waiting for me on the other end.
My wife is the opposite. She wants to get all the work done and then play. Trouble is, the work sometimes takes too much time so there’s no time left to play. That’s no good. So, I play first.
I look at it like it’s chocolate cake at the end of a meal. If I want the cake more than I want the meal, I’ll eat it first. I’d rather have no room left for green beans than no room left for cake.
I’m not saying my method is better. At times, it means that some work never gets done. But I’m OK with that. Not all work needs to be done.
I guess it boils down to happiness and doing what makes you happy. I don’t hate my work just as I don’t hate green beans. But cake makes me happier.
I reckon I could resolve to do what makes me happy, but I do that already. If unfinished business stressed me out, that would impact my happiness, so I would do the work to relieve the stress — just enough work to get me back to “me time.”
Just to make sure I’m not missing out on some important life decision, I looked up the most common New Year’s resolutions. I’m not overweight or unhealthy, so I can check off half of them. Then there’s “drink less alcohol” and “stop smoking.” My drinking amounts to less than one beer per month, and despite my cigar habit, my doctor, my life insurance and my health insurance all rate me as a non-smoker backed up by blood tests.
Then there’s “learn a new skill or hobby.” Who has time for that? Finally, there’s “reduce stress” and “spend more time with family and friends.” I don’t think you can do both at the same time.
Last on the list is “other.” I think that’s the resolution for me. I resolve to do “other.” When I figure out what that is, I’ll let you know.
Copyright 2017 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Why resolve that which is already solved?