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Janie Emaus Headshot

The Four Elements of the New Year's Resolution

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How many times have you made a New Year's Resolution, only to find yourself apologizing to yourself, days or maybe even only hours later, when you find that you just cannot keep your promise?

What ever in the world posessed you make such a commitment?

Over the years (which have been many) I've given much thought to that question. And I've come to the conclusion that the New Year's Resolution can be broken down by the elements: fire, water, earth, and air.

Let me define these for you.

The Fire Resolution: This is one that burns inside you. One that you just know you've got to make and have to keep. The one that defines who you are. Or so you think.

Such as writing a chapter everyday. Knitting five more inches of your scarf every evening. Painting a scene each morning.

The desire to accomplish X amount everyday so that at the end of this year, you will have that finished manuscript, a new painting, the perfect scarf.

But, ah, like any fire burning out of control, you can only keep up this ferocity for so long and it begins to die. "Every day" becomes "every other day" which melds into "once a week" and then, well, just whenever you feel like it. So goes that resolution.

It's not to say that the book/scarf/painting doesn't get finished. If something is important to you, you'll do it. You'll make the time for it. And you don't need to set a beginning date. Because setting a beginning always leads to an ending somewhere down the road.

The Water Resolution: This one has been flowing inside of you for a long time. You need to stop eating sugar. You need to watch less TV. You have to exercise more.

But like any tributary it needs a place to stop and collect itself. So, New Year's Day becomes your personal dam. The day you throw out all the cookies in the house. Cancel HBO. Join the gym.

But several days into the New Year, you start having withdrawals and begin to wonder why you imposed such an "all or nothing situation" on yourself. You can eat a little sugar. Why not? And that HBO special about sex is educational, isn't it?

And really, exercising everyday just leads to aches and pains that at this age you can live without.

Stopping any activity cold turkey is just a bunch of hogwash.

The Earth Resolution: This was has been revolving through your mind, on and off for years. Like learning to foxtrot. Or to take cooking lesions. Or read every book written by Charles Dickens. You just need a date to start it.

But once you do start, the revolutions don't end. And then one day you ask yourself why are you even doing this?

The Air Resolution, also known as the Peer Pressure Resolution: This is one you make because, well, everyone else is making one and you're falling under that group mentality. So, you just pluck one from out of thin air.

You'll let people in front of you in line if they only have one purchase and you have a full cart. You'll remember to recycle. You'll try to have patience when you finally reach a "real" live person when making a customer service call.

This may be the easiest to keep, because after all, you haven't been obsessing over it. And there is no life changing consequence involved with the resolution.

But in the end it doesn't matter which category your New Year's resolution falls into. Because one thing is certain -- wherever it falls, it most likely is going to get broken.