COLUMN: Live, rather than make, resolutions

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, simply because I either don’t keep them or forget about them until they are broken.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, simply because I either don’t keep them or forget about them until they are broken.

I do, however, make lists of things to do such as just before Christmas when I knew I’d be taking a two-week-long break.

Time to get all those planned projects done, and what better way to keep track of the progress than to cross them off, one after the other, when completed.

Like resolutions, the list is still nestled in a forgotten corner of the kitchen, only a few lines struck through the projects that were to be accomplished.

Christmas season and its activities apparently conflict with best intentions. A brunch date writes off any morning projects, followed by long chats about things I’m going to accomplish that in fact don’t get accomplished because I’ve wiled away the afternoon as well.

So, as I look out in the yard at the trees I should have pruned, the raked piles of garden detritus I should have gathered up, the canoe I meant to repair, I finally resolved that I would no longer make lists.

Just tackle one job until it’s done, no matter how long it takes, and to heck with planning ahead.

In other words, take life one day at a time.

And as for special events like Christmas Day, around my house that “day” actually extends over weeks. There are still unopened presents for three grandchildren – their presentation delayed because when grandparents are located in distant cities, every now and then you have to share the joy of children.

However, like the things on my list, Christmas will eventually “get done,”  just in time to start thinking about buying birthday gifts. Giving, as they say, never ends.

On the other hand, taking isn’t so bad either – like the time to smile at a stranger, or holding the door open for someone, regardless of gender. Taking the time to say thank you, or taking the opportunity to perform a random act of kindness.

Paying it forward, it appears, is one of the trendy acts gaining popularity such as paying for the goodies ordered by the person behind you in the drive-thru line-up; a nice surprise when it happens, and usually an incentive to perform a similar altruistic gesture.

It is something like that which makes life, and the lack of fixed resolutions, best. Just do on the spur of the moment what makes you feel good, and in the long run you, and life, and society, will be better for it.

Too often we live within structure, and while that in many ways is needed, sometimes the best things happen when we spontaneously act or believe or think outside the box.

For example, homelessness won’t be resolved with conventional thinking and multimillion-dollar buildings. It’s what’s in their heads, not over them, that first must be addressed.

Success in anything comes with discovering a path that others have yet to see, and devoting your mind and conviction to it.

So it is for 2014, a year that I trust will be successful for all, a year that achievements will be made and projects completed.

Good as 2013 may have been to you, my wish is that the coming year will be better, that you will receive and give a random act of kindness, and that you take the time to enjoy life to the fullest.