2009-12-31 / Opinions

New Year’s resolutions are better made, kept when they look backward rather than forward

By KIP BURKE News Editor

If there’s one thing this world doesn’t need right now, it’s another column about New Year ’s resolutions. We make ‘em, we break ‘em, life goes on.

But I will, since our Esteemed Editor expects me to, share a little hardearned wisdom about the whole concept of making New Year’s resolutions. I think we’re going about it wrong. Since hindsight is 20/20, I like to make my resolutions after the fact, as in “That’s the last time I …” or “After that, I’d be a fool to ….”

I call them Retroactive Resolutions ®, and you can use them too.

Here’s an example: Commuting on a motorcycle in Italy was a blast, especially if you’re already crazy, but riding in the rain was not. One wet day I was coming home, descending the last curvy hill before our driveway, with my wife and boys age 4 and 6 on our balcony watching Daddy ride home. I wave, and just as I’m about to turn in the driveway, an ambulance comes around the curve on my side of the road. Oops! I know better, but instinctively just touch the front brake.

Shh-boom. My family is treated to the sight of Daddy and his motorcycle crashing at about 10 miles an hour. (It sounds faster in kilometers.) At least I missed the ambulance, and the boys got a wonderful physics lesson watching Daddy’s butt bounce across the pavement. Did Daddy get a boo-boo? Yes, a little. Did Daddy get sympathy? No, not much.

Now, it would never have occurred to me to resolve not to crash my motorcycle in advance, but with my copyright Retroactive Resolution ® I am empowered to look back and say, with wisdom gained from pain and asphalt, “That’s the last time I try to dodge an Italian ambulanza by falling on my backside, especially in front of my wife and kids, who won’t let me forget this, ever.”

See how it works? Retroactive Resolutions can be far more specific, and far harder to break. No guilt to beat yourself up over, just pearls of wisdom you can pass on to your kids, assuming you put those pearls on their Facebook page where they’ll see them.

Over the years, I’ve applied this approach to things as diverse as hitting a Slinky with a lawnmower, catching ricochets during rock quarry target practice, and scaring girls with snakes when the girls are meaner than the snakes. I’ve gained great wisdom in all those areas, and have strong, lifelong resolutions in place because of them, not to mention some cool scars.

Speaking of scars, like most married men, I could write a book about the Retroactive Resolutions® I’ve gained from life as a husband. And just to show you that I’ve learned from my resolutions, I’ll shut up about that right…this…second.

See? It works! January’s cold enough without resolving myself right into the doghouse.

So give it a try: “After what I did this last year, I’d be crazy to …”

You’re welcome.

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