Even 'nonresolutions' not attainable for me

I was excited to learn, while working on the Pulse feature this week, that I am not the only one who struggles with New Year’s resolutions.

I found all sorts of encouraging statistics. Twenty-five percent give up their resolutions after a week, 64 percent after the first month. Only 9 percent of resolvers are successful — and only 41 percent bother to make them in the first place.

After decades of failure making resolutions, I tried a new strategy two years ago. I made a “21 for 21” list of nonresolutions, following a suggestion by Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project.”

A year ago I reported that I could mark “done” next to only four items and pledged to do better with my “22 for 22” list.

I included five specific items I did not accomplish that I put back on the list.

1. Bake a pie from scratch

2. Walk 21 days every month

3. Drive to Bloomington for an impromptu lunch with my best friend

4. Make macarons

5. Clean out the basement (again!)

Well, you might guess what I am about to say next. I am not able to check a single item off that very short list.

I did walk a lot. I spent New Year’s Eve with my best friend in Bloomington. I ate pie made from scratch (by Jim Slonoff) and bought macarons (from Toni’s). Does any of that count?

I hesitate to comment on the state of the basement, especially before we have all our Christmas decorations tucked back under the stairwell. But it’s not good.

I’ve tried many different approaches to items that end up as the subject of my resolutions, such as putting the basement in order or learning to play guitar.

I followed Eric Zorn’s advice in 2015 to abandon the plan to spend 30 minutes a day on something, as finding an entire half hour is just too difficult. He said try 10 minutes instead. I applied his recommendation to my work in the basement. I made it four days.

Someone I know recently suggested a 10 percent approach. If you’re reading 30 minutes a day, add three minutes. Walk 1.1 miles instead of a single mile. Eat 10 percent less candy and 10 percent more broccoli. I like it. But I worry its specificity will lead me to neurotic record-keeping in my new 2023 planner.

Perhaps the best words of wisdom — for me, anyway — are from a Jan. 1 Facebook post on how to live in 2023.

“More sleep. More music. More tea. More books. More sunsets. More creating. More long walks. More laughter. More hugs. More dreaming. More road trips. More fun. More love.”

What a great list! I really like sleep and tea and books and hugs and, well, all of those things. And none of them involve dragging bags of garbage and recycling to the curb. And the word “more” — rather than a specific percentage — means no measuring is involved.

I can even apply this approach to my previous lists, making them much more attainable.

1. More pie

2. More walking

3. More time with my best friend

4. More macarons

And No. 5, well, I might have to reframe it completely. If I could see the top of the pool table or have a clear path to throw a dart, the basement could be a means to “more fun” in 2023.

Perhaps I’ll put on a pot of tea, ask Alexa to play some relaxing piano music and dream of the day that work is done.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].