THE BLOG
02/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why I'll Keep My Vices, Not My Resolutions

This year for Christmas, Santa gave me five extra pounds and revived my intermittent smoking habit. Normally, attempting to correct these matters would have been par for the course as New Year's and its implicit resolutions arrived so conveniently on the heels of my holiday indiscretions- but this time things are different. For 2009, instead of trying to vanquish my vices in a grandly proactive display of betterment, I've decided to dance with my devils in a fit of social defiance.

As a lifetime subscriber to New Year's resolutions, I am practically giddy with relief to have so recently broken free from industriously trying to improve myself every January 1st- what a rotten time to think big! The coldest, darkest month of the year seems like an odd moment to confront major life changes. In fact, statistics show that 75% of those who make resolutions at New Year's fail on their first attempt to keep them, and is it any wonder? I can barely rouse myself to clean my bathroom much less make an ambitious behavioral U-turn smack dab in the middle of winter.

The ancient Babylonians were much smarter about this yearly change for the better concept. Credited with inventing the New Year's holiday in 4000 BC, they very smartly placed it at the beginning of the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox (the first day of spring). Now this makes sense- spring is a time of hope and rebirth, a season when my summer bikinis loom just around the corner instead of months and months away. Slogging to the gym amidst the budding greenery seems like a profitable thing to do, as the effort vs. reward ratio realizes a much more compact loop instead of dragging on interminably.

Being a generally optimistic, glass-half-full kind of person (but also a realist), I just don't like to set myself up for failure. Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year according to a study done by psychologist Cliff Arnall, falls on January 19th in 2009. Based on the calculations of factors including weather conditions, debt level and time elapsed since the holidays, Dr. Arnall claims that we hit our emotional rock bottom on this date. Although the theory's accuracy has been widely discounted by the academic community, I do see a kernel of truth in it- snow and lack of sunlight leave me preferring hibernation to hyper-inflated motivation. The guilt I have incurred from my previously unsustainable roller coaster resolutions is blissfully absent this year as I nod and smile while listening to other peoples' militant checklists.

Don't misunderstand me, it's not that I am planning a year of steeping in self-indulgence, I've just simply decided that being okay with where I'm at is a calmer approach to eventually arriving at where I want to go. Who needs the arbitrary date of January 1st as pressure to aim for perfection? And who really likes perfection anyway? As Abraham Lincoln said, "It has been my experience that folks with no vices have very few virtues." So I think I will stay interesting and complex as I dawdle in my vices for a few more months, at least.