13 Ways to Resolve Resolution Folly in 2013


“What If?” Artwork and essay by Janet Riehl (copyright 2013)

“I know I’m lazy. But I made myself a New Years resolution that I would write myself something really special. Which means I have ’til December, right?”

–Catherine O’Hara

We’re sitting on the couch in my father’s parlor with snow dripping from the evergreen trees outside the windows. I roll up my sleeves as I stare at the computer screen.

“Oh-oh.” my friend remarks, “once she rolls up her sleeves I know she’s serious now. That’s the whole thing, right there!”

It started a whole lot earlier this morning when the brainstorming flurry began. If there were a return department for New Year’s Resolutions, it would be over-flowing.  We wondered if there was a way to shorten the line at the return window.  We playfully asked: “What if…instead of…”

1) …resolving to do more, we resolved to do less?

2) …making resolutions at the beginning of the year that we are likely to break, we waited until the end of the year to gather up our regrets in one basket?

3)…or, waited until the end of the year to look back and see what we accomplished—planned or not.

4) …neatly plotting S.M.A.R.T. goals  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely), we compiled a list of wishes and prayers for the new year?

5)  …or…keep it simple and choose one watchword for the year. In 2012 I chose “constancy” and that touchstone kept me on course.

6) …we ditched O.P.E. (other people’s expectations) and defined success as sitting listening to the rain rather than writing the next New York Times best seller?

7) …getting our knickers in a twist over a deadline, we waited until the last minute to provide the urgency and adrenaline we need to break the tape at the finish line?

8) …sharpening 12 pencils and waiting for inspiration to strike, we etch essays in the sand as the tide rolls in?

What if…?

9) …we trusted our hearts to turn our faulty memories into the stories that need telling now?

10) …even if the world ends (again) next December we’ll sigh with satisfaction as we set along with the sun?

11) …our pens had their way with us?

12) …we turned 2013 into a meditation on Wallace Steven’s poem “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

13)  …the 13th stanza said all there was to know?


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.


Learn more about Janet Riehl’s work at Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century (www.riehlife.com) where her mission is to create connections through the arts and across cultures.

9 responses to “13 Ways to Resolve Resolution Folly in 2013

  1. Wonderful ideas, and so much more realistic, and easier on us, than making all those resolutions so resolutely, knowing we’ll never be able to do them and yet somehow we end up doing so much more, it seems.

  2. What if, indeed. This gently balances the contrast between should do and choose to. Thanks, Janet. An excellent post for the beginning of the year.

  3. Pingback: 2013 and what it holds « camgal

  4. Sam and Selena,

    I just started reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain. Perhaps our American model of hard and fast goals–and announcing them– is oriented towards extraverts.

    May we travel gently into the newest of years.


    • Thanks for reminding me of this book, Janet. I have it on my Kindle but have yet to start it. I’ve heard much good about it and maybe with the New Year as an “excuse,” now would be a good time to get it started.

  5. Love this, Janet. I couldn’t agree more. I’d add…What if…
    We just live. Right here. Right now. Breathing in and out and enjoying the process.

  6. Janet, I’m in the middle of all the “what-ifs” right now … and loving your post. Thanks for sharing. It’s all about recognizing where we are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s