Episode 023 – Resolutions

Self-control is mythical super-power that we chase and then chastize ourselves when we fail to catch it.

With 2023 approaching, I got to thinking about this resolution madness. Do you make them? Do you keep them? 

Here’s one of the earliest instances where the actual phrase “new year resolution” was used in a January 1st issue of a Boston newspaper from 1813. 

“I believe there are multitudes of people who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.”

Has anything changed in 2022/23?

Did you know, the fail rate for those of us participating in this madness is 88%? 

And here is a breakdown of why people fail at sticking to their resolutions.  

  • 35% of people said they set unrealistic goals. 
  • 33% said they never tracked their progress
  • And my favorite: 23% said they forgot. 

There’s a better way to practice self-reflection and self-improvement without the guilt, self-denial, and high probability of failure. 

Listen in to find out what I propose as an achievable alternative to the New Year’s Resolution.

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Until next time, be nice and do good stuff.

Time and experiences. Two key components that comprise the adobe of life. 


Since the dawn of man, few things have been measured, probed, pondered, or pursued than time. Yet, it remains a mystery. The new age robber baron’s haven’t quite figured out how to water it down, bottle it, mass-produce it, or trademark it. As it stands, there’s a finite amount and none of us know when it’s going to run out. 

But when it comes to experiences, thanks to technology, all of us have in the palm of our hand the power to chronicle every minute of perceived experience. Be they banal (bAY-nul) or beautiful. Tedious or triumphant. We capture and share them all. 

The point of convergence, where time and experience meet for a brief midnight interlude?

New Years. 

That imagined sign post that zooms by every 365 days to remind us that we’re moving through this fluid thing called time at a high rate of speed. And what do we do every year at this time? We make those pesky New Years Resolutions. Or… do we?


I don’t think it’s of any great service to talk at length about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. You don’t need to know that it dates back 4000 years to the Babylonians or get drawn into all of the religious parallels.

Suffice it to say, it started with the best intentions. Farmers promised to make good on their yearly debts, Romans made promises to the god Janus (for whom the month of January is named), the Jews had Yom Kippur, and the Christians had Lent.

To simplify, the concept, regardless of creed, was the annual practice of reflection and self-improvement.

When a person resolves to continue positive practices, change undesired behaviors, or achieve a personal goal. Reassessing one’s current state of well-being is never a bad thing. 

As with most things in the modern world, we’ve mucked up the implementation a bit but I think it might have been this way – mucked up – for a long time. 

Here’s one of the earliest instances where the actual phrase “new year resolution” was used in a January 1st issue of a Boston newspaper from 1813:

“I believe there are multitudes of people who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.” 

Expiate (Ex-pee-ate). If that’s not a good Gregorian word, I don’t know what is.  

Now, this resolution silliness is mostly a western world construct. In America, since the Great Depression, when they started tracking this stuff (as if they had nothing better to do back then), it balances out to between 40 and 50% of Americans who make new years resolutions.

If you look world-wide, only 23% of people make resolutions. The rest have shit to worry about that is more important than making promises to themselve that they have no intention of keeping.

What? I’m sorry. Was that the cynic in me rearing his ugly head? Missing the beauty of self-transformation? Possibly. 

But let’s look at the top 10 New Years Resolutions. You know them. You love them. 

  1. Exercise More
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get organized
  4. Learn a new skill / hobby
  5. Live life to the fullest – That’s not vague at all. 
  6. Save money / Spend less money
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Spend more time with family
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more

Any of those familiar bedfellows for you? We’ve all been there. 

The fail rate for those of us participating in this farcity is 88%. 

And here is a breakdown on why people fail at sticking to their resolutions.  

  1. 35% of people said they set unrealistic goals. 
  2. 33% said they never tracked their progress
  3. And 23% (this is my favorite) said they forgot. Forgot that they made a resol…

Why such high fail rates? Several reasons. The first is that the goals are usually too broad. Lose weight. What does that mean? 

How much weight? In what length of time? 

Live life to the fullest? 

Neither is a clear target. 

The experts in stuff like this -psychologists- claim that making them more specific gives you a better chance. Lose 10 lbs before the beginning of summer. That is a specific target with a specific time-frame. 

Another biggie when it comes to the failure of our resolutions is we humans operate with the belief that we can access with a flip of a switch that rarely used trait known as self-control. 

But Self-Control is a myth. A mythical super-power that we chase and then chastize ourselves when we fail to catch it. 

There are so many facets to the myth of self-control but to put it as simply as possible, self-control is the practice of forcing yourself to want what you don’t want. Be motivated when you are not or follow a path that you did’t choose. 

Discipline = suffering. It’s control versus desire. 

And we all know, when someone tells us we can’t have something, we can’t do something, we want that something even more. How can this possibly lead to successful results?

If you decide to continue with the practice of making resolutions this year, here are some tips to better your chances. 

  • Make them specific and make them attainable
  • Esentially, give yourself a clear target to aim at
  • Share your goals so others can support you
  • Be diligent about getting off-track. If you stumble, get back at it ASAP

Personally, I stopped making resolutions years ago. I do partake in the self-reflection. I look back at the events of the year, where I started and where I finished. But, in all honesty, I do this all year long. 

As an independent artist, I’m constantly adjusting my course. Reassessing. I view everything with a critical eye 

Now, I’ve been thinking about this New Years piece for a while. Knowing it would air a few days before the big day, I wanted to make it special. I wanted to come up with a different take. 

Something I could offer as an alternative to the New Years Resolution that would still encompass all of the positive aspects of reflection and improvement, yet dispense with the guilt, self-denial, and the high probability of failure.

Now, if you still prefer to do the Resolution giggly-giggly (I don’t know what that means) have at it. 

But what I’ve come up with as an achievable alternative is a list of questions. 

A list of questions you already know the answers to. How freaking easy can it be? 

When compiling this list, I came across hundreds of great questions that we could all benefit a great deal from but – ain’t nobody got time for hundreds of questions. This is not the SATs.

I culled my list down to 10. 

10 questions to ask yourself this New Years Eve. C’mon… you can handle 10.

I don’t have a fancy name for this list or a cute little acronym… and it’s far from perfect but what the hell is perfection anyway. 

With this list, I tried to consider the areas of our lives that come under scrutiny when we talk about self-improvent. Health, Happiness, Relationships, Finances, Work Life, and Dream Life.

Here we go. 

#1: What did I change my mind about this year? 

Contrary to popular belief, changing your mind is a good thing. It means you’re capable updating your internal software. Able to recognize a possible flaw in your thinking. 

Write it down. 

#2: What energized me?




#3: What drained me?




#4: Who were dead weight? The vampires.

Who held you back

Diminished your accomplishments, or laughed at your goals, or dreams

Sucked the life out of you

Identify these folks and get as far away from them as possible

#5: What did I not do because of fear?

Deconstruct your thinking… breakdown the fear

View it through the lens of time. And write it down

#6: What were my wins and what were my loses?

Write down 3 of your wins this year. Small, big, silly, profound…whatever

3 losses 

#7: How do I feel about my work life?

Did I learn new skills

How do I feel about The Work

What might I want to change

#8: What happened to my body?

Was I sick or injured

Did I heal or have a big recovery

Did I care for myself

Do I feel energized or exhausted

#9: How have I changed as a person?

Pretty straight forward.

Did I make good choices: Take credit. 

#10: What do I want the year ahead to look like?


Work Life



Creative / Dream Life

Number 10 is the traditional New Years Resolution reimagined. Instead of telling yourself what you’re not going to do, ping the reward center of your brain with a target to aim at. Something positive.

Okay, that’s the list. I hope it helps because it’s all I’ve got. But YOU’VE got 364 days before that old familiar sign post appears on the horizon, and… you have a list of ingredients now to help you dial in that time and experience mixture. I wish you all much love and continued success in 2023. Let’s do it again next year, the good Lord willin and the creek don’t rise. 


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