01/02/2013 12:02 pm ET Updated Mar 04, 2013

Why I'm Resolute Against Resolutions


A few words about resolutions.

I'm suspicious of them. I put them in the same category as diets: in the main, they're doomed from the start, complete with a hefty chaser of guilt and self-recrimination.

"But you're the author of ONE GOOD DEED!" you may be thinking. "You set out to do something good every day for a whole year!" Well, true. But first of all, I was clever enough to start my journey on my birthday, which falls dead in the middle of the summer, so it wasn't like starting a diet Monday morning. And my mission was different. I wasn't trying to change who I was -- I was trying to discover who I was, in a way. When you tell yourself you're going to make big changes, well, that's when the trouble starts, if you ask me. You get resentful, you bite off more than you were prepared to chew. Before long, you hate everything about your resolution, and now you're mad at yourself for the torture you've self-inflicted.

What I'm talking about is clocking your life just a little instead. It's not about #26acts, or even about paying it forward, though those are certainly both fine things to do. I'm talking about simply trying harder. Not keeping count. Not paying back. Keep your wallet in your pocket and offer a hand instead of a dollar. Just be more aware. One has to wonder how many tragedies of all sorts could be averted if people just paid a little more attention.

Listen: if you feel this is the year you have to get a new job, go after it. If you need to end your marriage, do so. Those aren't resolutions. What I'm "anti" is a "New Year, New You" based on wishing -- and likely soon to be devoid of action. You could say I'm resolute about resolutions
But it's not too late to amend your plan! We have barely scratched the New Year. You can renegotiate the resolution (or diet). Instead of saying, "This year I'm going to make big changes," how about, "This year, I'm going to do a little better, try a little harder." Just make more of an effort, be more mindful. For example: Speak up when people spew hate. Give someone a second chance. Turn around, go back, and offer to help. Forgive. There are a billion ways to do a good deed. Every one of them makes you a better person.

Small is fine. Small and constant is life-changing. And that's what a resolution is really all about.

As I travel around talking to people about One Good Deed, I'm often asked how I felt when my year of deed-doing ended. And I say that as corny as it sounds, it made me feel new again.

As in, New Year. Have a happy and healthy one.