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What I Really Know

About New Year's Resolutions

They can come true, but it takes a bit of doing

Heidi Smith's family photos - new year's resolutions are better when they are not wishes

Happily ever after: the author with her husband, Trent, in 1974. — Photos courtesy Heidi Smith

They don't work. Except for sometimes.

Years ago, I looked forward to New Year's Eve with great anticipation and excitement in Berlin, Germany. At midnight we would watch fireworks and toast the new year with a sip of champagne. Then we would drop a small spoonful of molten lead into a bowl of cold water, and the oddly shaped results would tell us our fortune.

See also: Avoiding absurd New Year's resolutions.

After the toast I proclaimed my resolutions: I wanted to go on a trip around the world; I would win a million dollars; a blond Adonis would sweep me off my feet, marry me and we would live happily ever after.

None of it ever happened.

Of course, my resolutions were actually wishes — wishes you can't act upon.

Over the years my resolutions changed subtly: Stick to a running schedule; eat meat only every other day; play with Dylan, my grandson, every Wednesday.

All of the above "came true." It took a bit of doing. But the New Year's resolutions helped me focus. I became a more confident runner. Eating less meat actually made me feel better, and that made the resolution easy to keep.

Playing with Dylan was the best resolution of all. I never missed our weekly "dates." I picked him up after school, and we went home and started cooking dinner together. I watched him grow up.

New Year's resolutions can work. Wishes? Maybe, maybe not. But I am enjoying the "happily ever after" part, the one I wished for with my husband, Trent — who, years ago, had black wavy hair.

Also of interest: Things to never do again during the holidays. >>

Heidi Smith is a reader from Taos, N.M.

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