For the New Year, resolve not to resolve


By Lisa Sugarman

The New Year is intimidating as hell for a lot of people. That’s just the simple truth. And I think that’s because most people have a completely irrational side that distorts otherwise joyous celebrations, like New Years and the resolutions that go along with it, and makes them big and scary.

See, New Year’s Eve is out there, looming, for three hundred and sixty-four days, all big and fresh and untainted, with this shimmery halo of potential hovering over it. And personally, I think that scares the ever-loving crap out of a lot of people.

That’s, I think, because so many people have this expectation that whatever they tried and failed to accomplish throughout the year, leading up to December 31st, can be completely wiped away with an iron-clad resolution. We assume that because our intentions for New Years are so genuine that all the promises we make will endure.

Uh, wrong. The sad fact is, they almost never do. And that’s not me talking, that’s statistical data talking. My pal Dan Diamond, a contributing writer with Forbes (ok, he’s not my real pal), says that out of the more than forty percent of people who actually make New Year’s resolutions, only a tiny sliver of them, roughly only eight percent, actually keep them. Ouch. That one hurt.

But I wonder if anyone’s ever stopped to consider that the majority of New Year’s resolutions are made under the influence of copious amounts of champagne and other holiday-type spirits. And if they’re not declared that way, then they’re probably made in some kind of food-induced state of consciousness. And we all know how authentic those types of promises can be. They’re just like the promises people make when they’re having sex. Like any of those are legit.

People have great intentions, I truly believe that. But we just put too much pressure on ourselves to pull it all together for the New Year. And because of that, I think that New Year’s Eve has become such an iconic symbol for cleaning the slate that people get nervous that they can’t follow through.6781d350-8f73-11e4-91a2-5b7cf9539efa_New-Years-Resolutions

I honestly think that what makes the New Year so nerve-racking is that it’s both the finish line and the starting line all wrapped into one climactic moment. It’s become the marker that so many people use when they decide to change everything. It’s like there’s this universal feeling that people have about it that gives it an almost-magical quality. That no matter how far we stray from being the perfect people we all desperately want to be, we always have New Year’s Eve as a guaranteed Mulligan that we can cash in—like an automatic do-over.

The thing is, I think I’ve figured out why the success rate for New Year’s resolutions is so pitiful. I’m convinced it’s due entirely to the Eggs-In-One-Basket Theory, which the majority of people follow around this time of year.

When we put all of our eggs in one basket—like most people tend to do with resolutions—only two things are ever likely to happen: A. the basket is unliftable because it’s filled with so many eggs; or B. you ultimately get the basket briefly off the ground but then you stumble under the weight of it, trip, and fall directly on top of the basket, squishing every last one of the eggs, leaving you eggless and smelling absolutely foul.

So it’s based entirely on this theory that I think we need a new plan.

This year, I think we should try something completely radical and do absolutely nothing when the ball drops. Like, nothing. No planning, no resolving, no anticipating. Let’s all just be in the moment and try enjoying that. No pressure, no expectations.

I think we should watch all the retrospectives on CNN and E! Entertainment TV and Dateline and just enjoy them. After that, we maybe take a minute to think about what was good and right for us during the last year.

Then I think we should whip out some Prosecco and make Giada’s pink grapefruit and thyme Bellinis—they’re absolutely delicious and are guaranteed to put you in just the right kind of bubbly mood.

Then we watch the New Year come and go. We enjoy it for what it is and what it was. And then, when all the pressure is off, like on a Tuesday in early February around 4:30 in the afternoon, when no one’s looking, we sit down and decide what we want out of ourselves for the New Year. And that’s when we commit. Without any liquor or sugary carbs or stress to distort our thinking. We just pick a few manageable things that we’re confident we can work toward changing and then have at it.

No pressure, no fanfare. Just straight-up reasonable goals. And that’s how we get it done. Oh yeah, that, and we remember that some kind of failure is always an option, because that’s life.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.2013resolutions_122712-thumb-640xauto-7388

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on


2 thoughts on “For the New Year, resolve not to resolve

  1. Lisa- First of all I do not do Facebook, so I hope you get this comment. I have been trying to get a literary agent for several years and have been rejected over ONE THOUSAND TIMES! (Sorry, this is in reference to an article I just read about your rejections for your book in a different article). But I do understand rejection, to say the least. I think there are a few great agents like Aaron Priest, Lucy Childs (of his agency) and several more. The rest are lone wolves and probably live/or die by representing a couple of fly by night authors that are hardly ever heard of. The top agents do represent the big name authors and will not let you in, period. There is absolutely no way to peek their interest with a one page query letter describing your book and yourself, so don’t even bother to waste your money with a self-addressed envelope so they can throw in their (generic) rejection letter in, lick and seal the envelope and send it back to you; sometimes two or three YEARS later! I have tried literally everything to get an agent to represent my novel Game of Fate (a political thriller), along with my second novel Tahoe (a romantic thriller); to no avail. I have no idea what they want or how they choose, but I assume it is a highly regarded secret and you will never. ever get an agent to actually request a Prologue, much less the entire manuscript. Yeah, I could easily press a couple of buttons and self-publish, but what’s the fun in that? Millions of people are flooding the market with e-publishing and actually some of them are fantastic reads. The problem with doing that is you may get one hundred to maybe even six-hundred readers before you die on the vine and get pushed out by other self-published books hitting the e-world. In other words-your shelf-life in the e-world is very, very short; a nano-second, at best. No best sellers there. No way. The only way to get a best seller is to have an agent, so the cream stays at the top and the bottle’s full. All that being said, I will always keep trying because I could care less about being rejected and a whole lot more about getting an agent because I do have a best seller product and I am going to find a way to get an agent, get it published and have a movie made from the story (if I live that long). Ha! End of story…not yet!!!

    • Thanks for your feedback, Scott. Good for you for keeping at it, which is exactly what any of us has to do to make things happen. Unfortunately for most of us, things rarely happen as quickly as we want them to. But you’ve got the right attitude for sticking with it. Best of luck!

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