at the beginning of the new year, the ancient babylonians made promises to the Gods that they would return borrowed items and repay their debts. the romans made their new year’s promises to janus, the two faced God for whom january is named. and the medieval knights made a “peacock vow” right after christmas to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. these days, a lot of people make new years resolutions. fully 40% of americans make resolutions. the most popular ones being losing weight, exercising more, getting a better job, getting control over one’s finances. but 88% of people fail at their resolutions, almost half giving up before the end of january. last year, i resolved to meet all 325 facebook friends that i had at the time. for a variety of reasons, i managed to meet up and have real face time, with 292.
this year, my resolution is to meet 12 facebook friends who would like my help getting out from behind the computer screen. i think we sometimes use facebook friendships as a way of avoiding the chaos, confusion and just plan scariness of modern life. and some of us have our worlds get smaller and smaller.
i made three new years resolutions: one, i have to lose ten pounds. i gained that much over the course of last year–damn, those taipei soup dumplings, the weiner schnitzel in dortmund, the smashed peas in bristol, the seven course meal in eastbourne. . . the next is a little more embarrassing.
and the big resolution is that i will take what i have learned and visit twelve facebook friends who are stuck. and i will do what i can to help “un-stuck” them. but january’s nearly over. i have to get moving. people who are successful at new years resolutions do two things: they engage in interim goal setting and they announce their intentions and ask for support from their friends. in order to make my facebook new years resolution work, i will have to meet one facebook friend a month. and it can’t just be one meeting or one interaction. it’s going to have to be a little more intense. but i have made the first step:
on january 26th, i will be in pennsylvania meeting with a facebook friend who has been housebound for some time. she would like to be a “better” mother and see her son succeed at things like little league games. i will be meeting her for the first time.
on january 29th, i will fly out to boston where i will meet with a facebook friend who has similar issues. i hope she’ll let me take her to lunch at the “top of the hub” restaurant in boston because one of the focuses of her anxiety is heights and elevators.
if you want to succeed at whatever you’ve chosen as your new year’s resolution, you should announce what you plan to do and you should celebrate your interim successes.