New Year’s resolutions worth resolving

I don’t know what to make of our new year’s resolutions. My wife had resolved to be less judgmental. Then she declared that if I were any kind of a good person, I would pledge to be less critical.

“Less critical!” I erupted. “That is by far one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard you say.”

And whammo! Just like that we had blown up two perfectly good resolutions … in the span of the first couple minutes of 2018.


We’ll probably keep trying, though. We’re not the kind of people who take failure well. We don’t give up. That’s for stupid weak people who have … DANGIT! There I go again. OK, seriously, I’m really trying.

There are other ones I want to work on in the new year, too. Like learning whether there is any correlation between the amount of cake I’ve been eating and the fact that I’ve slipped a notch on my belt. Or how when it comes to running consistently, I’ve not only fallen off the wagon, but the wagon turned around, ran me over twice and then gave me a slice of cake. At this rate, I’ll be down another belt notch by June!

Maybe more meaningfully (and less belt notch-focused) I was also struck by something Richard Branson wrote not too long ago. Branson is that incredibly successful businessman and entrepreneur who does crazy adventure stuff like record-setting, ocean-crossing journeys in boats and hot air balloons and I think a go-kart.

He said that he is often asked about his key to success, and that the answer is always the same thing: enormous piles of money! No, he said it’s simple: happiness. And that it should be everyone’s goal. No matter how big or small. And even if you don’t own a rocket ship company or a high-tech hot air balloon.

Deep down in the piece he wrote something that struck a nerve with me. It said: “Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.”

I read that and thought, “Well, that’s like a bad quote out of an inspirational cat calendar.” But the “new” Brian gave it a chance, and thought about those “nominal things” that get in the way for all of us. Like the 18 to-do lists scattered about my desk, or the patchwork of Post-It notes on the pegboard above my computer demanding my attention.

What he’s really talking about, I figured, is not being able to see the forest for the trees. And he knows this because he has a hot-air balloon and gets a much better view that I do.

But maybe that’s what I should spend part of the new year working on: Trying not to get hung up on the little things, and focus on the bigger picture. How it can make even a happy man happier. Plus, maybe it will help me get that belt notch back.

Also published on Medium.

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