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New Year’s resolutions usually last about as long as the batteries in our children’s Christmas toys. So why do we even make them in the first place? I know I am sincere when I resolve to lose weight or be nicer to my “no good, rotten, selfish co-worker”. But something ALWAYS tempts me, like a free second piece of cherry cheesecake or a chance to belittle and gossip about my co-worker when he leaves the room. I feel bad about it for a while but usually arrive at the conclusion that since the resolution is broken, there is nothing more I can do about it this year. This absolves any guilt for another eleven months until I start all over again.

Therefore, this year I resolve to make No More Resolutions. “You can’t break what’s not there,” is something I have always been told. I hear you saying, “Now wait a minute, that’s not fair. How will you ever improve yourself?” Well, maybe I like myself just the way I am! But then, I look in the mirror and realize I DON’T like what I see. I begin to understand that maybe I am the “no good, rotten, selfish co-worker,” sitting by myself eating two pieces of cherry cheesecake. So how can we resolve to be good without making any breakable resolutions?

This next statement goes against conventional wisdom, so you may want to close your eyes and skip this line if that offends you. DO NOT set reachable goals for 2016. Instead, look “higher” and “farther” than you have ever dared to look. If you reach an easy goal or break a promise already in January, you might feel defeated or unchallenged the rest of the year. Don’t EVER give up. You never know how close you are to a monumental accomplishment in your life. Thomas Edison failed over 1000 times to produce a sustainable commercial light bulb. If he had stopped at trial number 999 we might still be playing our X-Box by candlelight.

So let us make each day better than the day before. Some days you will get knocked down, while other days you will knock yourself down. You can’t be perfect, but you can learn from failure and experience. My father had both his legs amputated by the age of 60, but was still the most optimistic person I ever met. He would be called into hospital rooms of people who were about to have a limb amputated. With his cane, he would strike both legs with a loud “whack” and remind them, “there is ALWAYS someone worse off than yourself”. My dad had as much right as anyone to quit, but he never did and none of us should ever stop making our lives more meaningful.

I will end this article with a story of twin boys; one was a pessimist and the other an optimist. One particular Christmas, the pessimistic boy was given a room full of wonderful toys and the optimistic boy was given a very large pile of horse manure. The parents went to the first boy’s room and ask why he was not playing with any of his new toys. He said, “They will only get broken, so what’s the use?” When they went to the other boy’s room they found him laughing and jumping in the manure with great delight. So the parents asked him why he was so happy with a room full of manure. The optimistic child squealed as he threw the manure in the air and said, “You can’t fool me, with this much manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Don’t give up in 2016. Keep looking for your “pony”. You may have to dig through some very ugly, smelly things. And if you fail, you can check off one more way that doesn’t work. You never know when the next trial will be the one that brings success. And if you do reach your goal(s), good for you, move on to your next accomplishment. Don’t let broken resolutions stop you from reaching higher than you ever imagined.

Allen Shaw
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Allen Shaw

Allen is a lifetime resident of Waynedale. He was declared legally blind in 2013 and at that time he turned to writing and has written many children’s stories, poems and essays. He graduated from Elmhurst High School and was a formal choral director there as well. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer