The greatest myth in all humanity is the notion that we can actually change, always for the better, whenever we need to. Crazier still, we believe we can schedule that change for the day after New Year.
While we all enjoy the return to sanity after the hectic holiday season, and people can and should make an honest effort to quit smoking, eat healthy foods, workout at the gym more often and begin flossing regularly, the idea that we can spontaneously decide to change is absurd. I don't have any hard statistics, but a few Web sites I found pegged the number of successful New Year's resolutions at anywhere from two to 20 per cent. At best you only have a one in five chance of succeeding, and an 80 per cent chance of failure - and failure is never good for the fragile human psyche. It leads to self-defeat, which leads to depression, which leads to more over-consumption, which leads to more New Year's resolutions. I'm already a huge disappointment to myself, but I could always sink a little lower.
So why do it? Why make New Year's resolutions if we have little or no chance of actually following through?
In a way it's only natural to try. People always make promises to themselves during binges, and bingeing just happens to be what the holidays are all about.
Besides, deep down we all know that it's important to make changes, and follow through with some of the goals we set for ourselves. The confidence boost we get from every success is worth a hundred failed attempts.
I still haven't given up on any of the 300 or so New Year's resolutions I've made for myself over the years. I've even accomplished a few things in the attempts, although the results vary.
It's only recently that I've figured out that resolutions are not about life-changing decisions - nobody can wake up on New Year's Day a whole new person - unless your goal was to be a person with a headache, a hickey and a brutal case of dry mouth. In that case, mission accomplished.
Walk before you run. Crawl before you walk.
My advice to all the butterflies out there is to live in the cocoon a little while longer, and make little New Year's resolutions you can actually keep.
If you're looking for a few ideas, I'll share my list with you.
Resolution #1 - Eat more beans.
I'm a vegetarian, and it's always a struggle to get the protein I need to grow big and strong. I also enjoy beans. Still, I find that I only have beans with my meal once or twice a week. I resolve to buy more beans this year, and to use more beans when I'm cooking or making salad.