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Be resolute!

The New Year is the time to fix what's wrong — with everybody else

Susan Reimer

11:27 AM EST, December 31, 2012

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Faithful readers, it is that time of year again! The day when we make promises to ourselves that we would actually keep if we made them to anyone else.

It is time for New Year's resolutions, and this year I have called upon my social media tools — Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, email, text messages and YouTube — to see what the world perceives its failings to be and how to correct them.

As a vehicle for self-improvement, New Year's resolutions are a poor choice and a miserable failure. According to most studies, four of five Americans fail to keep them, and 100 percent of those people end up feeling bad about themselves, often before January is over.

The Wall Street Journal explained to us this month that the reason resolutions so often fail is that we use them to change "rock hard habits" that have been cemented into place over many years, like diet, exercise and smoking.

We seem to feel so much better when we make resolutions for somebody else, and I think it is because when they fail, it reflects well on us. We knew what their shortcomings were all along.

For example, sportswriters always write resolutions for the sports teams or the athletes they cover. Tiger Woods: Learn to close the deal on tournament Sundays.

Tech writers create lists for tech toy designers. Programs: Run faster. Everybody else? Longer battery life.

The Mr. Fix-it writer says homeowners should resolve to fix what is broken the minute it comes to our attention. And if we don't have the time, hire someone. (Forgive me, dear husband, but this one is going up on the bathroom mirror.)

Pet bloggers say we should close the laptop and cuddle more with Fido. And pay attention to his dental health. (If these bloggers were writing for humans, I think they would say the same thing.)

James Napoli has some advice for God on The Huffington Post. The author of "The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm" has the almighty resolving to reconsider free will — because you never know what some idiot is going to do with it — and to stop helping sports teams win because, really, doesn't He have more important things to do?

We hear from celebrities at this time of year. Kim Kardashian has resolved to simplify her life by removing her Twitter background images. And I am thinking, "Honey, that doesn't begin to cover it."

We hear from superheroes on resolutions, too. Wolverine: "Try to stab fewer people in front of impressionable teenagers that I'm trying to teach about nonviolence."

And fashion designers. Christian Siriano: "I always say my New Year's resolution is to eat better, be healthy and not eat junk food." He never keeps that resolution, he says. So he wears a "slimming" coat. (Wow. He's like the rest of us!)

And pundits. Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg writes that Mitt Romney should resolve to take on the NRA on the topic of gun control in the New Year, a resolution a lot of us would like to see kept.

Comedian Ross Everett has a really funny bit on YouTube: 50 resolutions in 31/2 minutes. Soon enough, you realize they are all about a love relationship gone wrong and the police stand-off at a motel that results. But then he concludes with "floss more," which is only funny because it is on my list, too.

I challenged my Facebook friends to share their resolutions for the New Year and I got a little nervous — considering the combustible mental state of our country — when so many of them had to do with "patience." Except for those of my nephew, who has resolved to drink only craft beer and to find a way to work more Nutella into his life.

I checked on Twitter, where absolutely everybody is resolving something, and there I found the Red Cross, urging me to be more prepared for disaster in 2013, which, considering how things went weather wise in 2012, makes very good sense.

Everybody else just seems to advocate eating right, whatever that means, and putting Jesus first, which is also kind of vague.

I've decided to learn from The Wall Street Journal's reporting and not use my resolutions to correct any hard and fast habits because it won't work and then I will be depressed. So I have resolved to stop smoking.

This will be an easy one to keep, especially since I never started.

Susan Reimer's columns appear on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at susan.reimer@baltsun.com and on @Susan Reimer on Twitter.

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