Growing up, New Year’s Resolutions were more of a shopping list than a manifesto of change.
“Buy 30 new books, get some Jordache jeans, Reeboks, and some new Duran Duran tapes” often made my list.
No one told me otherwise as my family wasn’t exactly big on making resolutions. This bothered me greatly. I thought there should be great excitement in making these yearly traditions.
“Why don’t you make any New Year’s Resolutions?” I asked Granny once.
She grunted at me. “What for?”
“Don’t you want to change something in the new year?”
She eyed me over her sewing for a second. “I want to change lots of things in the coming year, but me making a list of it ain’t gonna make it happen.”
“But it’s fun.”
“You’ve got a weird idea of what’s fun,” she stated. “Writing stuff out on a piece of paper on January 1st ain’t fun nor will it change anything. Whatever I need to change, I just need to do it.”
I like lists though, always have. I like the idea of planning things out and thinking about what I am going to do and then mulling over the options and how I will execute it. My grandmother, on the other hand, was more of a jump in and get it done kind of gal.
Mama wasn’t a big resolution maker either.
“Don’t you want to quit smoking?” I asked.
She didn’t even have to think about it. She didn’t want to quit so she wasn’t making any pretenses of it.
But I sure wanted her to quit.
“Don’t you think it would be a good New Year’s Resolution?” I’d question.
I’d tell Granny I didn’t know why Mama didn’t want to make this her goal for the coming year.
“Because it needs to be something she’d want to do or it ain’t gonna stick,” Granny stated matter of factly.
“Why doesn’t she want to do it though?” I wailed.
I worried — the smoking upset me. Mama saw the Surgeon General’s warnings just like I did, but she didn’t seem to pay any attention to what they said.
“Let me tell you something, old gal,” Granny began. “People ain’t gonna change something until they are good and ready to. Don’t matter how bad you want them to do it, if they don’t want to do it, they ain’t going to. Leave her be. You make her quit now when she doesn’t want to, and she will start back with a vengeance first chance she gets.”
Granny, to have only finished the third grade of school, had a lot of wisdom in her words.
People aren’t going to change until they are ready. It doesn’t matter what we want them to do, it falls on the person and what they are ready to do. Until then, we are just wasting our breath.
As I grew older and hopefully a little wiser, I discovered how right Granny was.
Change is a big undertaking.
January 1st isn’t going to make that much of a difference in whether or not someone will make those changes happen.
In fact, a lot of people bail on those resolutions by February — to the tune of around 80 percent.
I was puzzled by that fact, wondering how someone didn’t stick to their goals, but then thought of my own resolutions of years past.
It’s one thing to set the goal to buy a pair of jeans versus stopping a habit that’s been ingrained for decades.
Writing out our resolutions is supposed to help them stick but if over half of them are discarded in a few weeks, that evidently doesn’t work for most people.
“You wanna know what’s wrong with you?” Granny asked. “Y’all seem to think that once the clock strikes 12 and it becomes January everything is going to suddenly be so much different. Like that’s all you gotta do. Just wait til the stroke of midnight and magically those things happen. Everything is supposed to be so different. It ain’t.”
She wasn’t far off as usual.
I think that may be the case for many of us.
We get so focused on the hype of the New Year and making those resolutions that we just look at the date and don’t think about what we need to do to see a difference.
We think a new year is the clean slate we need to reinvent ourselves or make those needed changes, when the truth is, we don’t need to wait for January 1.
But, like Granny said, it does need to be something we are sincerely ready to change.
There’s a lot of things I want to work on in the coming year. Some of them, I am writing down, and making a plan.
A few, I am starting on today.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.