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Since before the time when Archimedes ran naked through the streets of Syracuse yelling “Eureka!” humanity has been on a quest of self-improvement and determination to follow through.

Okay, so Archimedes has zero to do with this. So sue me. Better yet, make a New Year’s Resolution about it.

I have, in the past, noted that I stopped participating in this archaic and largely illusory exercise some years ago. Sort of. It remains as a painful pleasure to those masochists out there who enjoy setting themselves up for failure. Please note that the more you insist on listing  TEN, the more masochistic you are.

Now, I have little doubt that early humans, while looking out of the cave upon a new year resolved to change a few things. Like being more careful when sharpening spears, and not volunteering so much as lead in the Wooly Mammoth hunt.

And down through the ages, people, ever confident have continued this stupid practice of thinking that by sheer will, and the turn of a day on the calendar, magically they could transform their lives into that which they had always dreamed of.

No one would argue that the number one resolution historically is to diet. Yes, it never fails. In fact, the commercial world, dumb as it is, always runs some ads telling us to eat this or that in order to “fit into that swimsuit” come June.

So popular is this little resolution, that supermarkets quite regularly run out of Lean Cuisine on January 2 of every year, and the garbage retrieval companies report a larger than usual dumpage of old-freezer killed packages of same around December 30 or so. (depending on your pick-up date of course).

So unsuccessful is this resolution that it is being noted by planetary scientists world-wide. It has been known for some time that America is “weightier” than any other nation in the world. All the resolution in the world seems to have no effect. Scientists now note that the weight imbalance on our side of the globe is increasing to a degree that it is starting to throw the axis of the earth out of alignment, and that if this continues, we shall roll right out of our orbit.

 It is projected that our next stop will be as a satellite of Saturn. Having watched old episodes of Buck Rogers, I can tell you that the Saturnians are a most unpleasant sort of people, and it is ill-advised to join their system.

Going hat-in-hand with dieting is of course exercise. This causes the usual run on tennis shoes and other work-out wear, but most get so little use, that often it can be re-used the following year.

The median resoluteness of these two grand desires is approximately 2.3 weeks, slightly longer if there is a membership in a weight losing scheme such as Wiggles and Jiggles BeGone or Max’s Pain and Torture Emporium. Then the resolute period is a whopping 3.4 weeks.

Next on the list of “I’m working on me” is those things that actually improve one’s mind. Learn it or lose it, or something like that. This often is considered before the actual resolution date, and is requested as a gift at Christmas time. No dreams of sugar plums in these heads, but rather of looms and needles, and fabrics, and such. Believe me, I know all about this one. I have a room full of barely started projects to prove it. And if you are honest, so do you. Don’t bite this bait again.

Nothing compares to our resolve to become better read, and so most lists include a promise to “read more.” It is most important that you leave it general like this. While it is true that when you wrote it, you meant things like reading Plutarch and Pliny, or something by Steven Hawking, trust me, no more than thirty pages of any of these will be consumed. Truly, that is the average that anyone actually plows through.

No, if you leave it at “read more” you can talk yourself into believing that comic books, the captions on pictures in People, and the ingredients on a cereal box all count. See, success!

My favorite are the even more ephemeral ones like “making a difference in somebody’s life each day.” Now you can cross this one off as a success even before you start. You do make a difference in somebody’s life every day, as long as you don’t hold yourself to the requirement that it be a positive one. I assure you, you got this one. Move on.

People often decide that they are going to take better control of their finances as a resolution of sorts. And you can too. Just don’t start figuring out this one, until you have finished paying off the books and supplies needed to accomplish all the other resolutions you made already. It is important to keep this one at the end of the list. Comprendé?

So, if you plan carefully, you can beat this game that defeats almost everyone else. Stay away from dieting and exercise. Substitute more general terms like “eat better” (use one pat less of butter per week is technically “eating better!”) and “moving” more which can be contorting yourself to scratch your own back rather than reach for the backscratcher. Movement is movement after all.

The rest? Well, I think you get the template here. GENERALLY BE GENERAL, or GBG as we in the experienced trade call it.

You too can be a Resolution success story!