As the New Year approaches, we look to a fresh start and a new beginning. It’s a tradition held by some to make a resolution or a wish for the New Year. Lose weight, stop smoking, spend less money, listen to your spouse more and pray for peace are just some of the resolutions many make, few keep and most know have a questionable chance of coming to fruition. The New Year is also a time to evaluate the highs and lows of the previous year and make plans to enhance or eliminate them. But, the most resolute thing about New Year’s resolutions and wishes is that, although we make them with sincerity, plan to keep them in earnest, we all know that there’s no penalty for falling short—and there’s always next year to make them again. In fact, 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail—80 percent of them are over, forgotten or just abandoned by March.
The New Year is indeed a time that many reflect on their lives—sometimes with regret, often with thanks and usually with hope for a better year ahead. Many celebrities have weighed-in with their New Year’s hopes, predictions, aspirations and advice. Oprah Winfrey famously said, “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” Albert Einstein advised, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Maya Angelou noted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Mark Twain suggested, “New Year’s Day is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” John Lennon said, “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” Michelle Obama encouraged youngsters to “choose people in your life who lift you up.” Mohammed Ali gave this advice: “I hated every minute of training. But I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. counseled his followers to “take the first step in faith—you don’t need to see the whole staircase, just the first step.” And even Dr. Seuss chimed in with this philosophical thought: “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Perhaps the most important thing about New Year’s resolutions is our resolve to make them, which, whether or not they are actually kept, doesn’t matter as much as the fact that we recognize the need to make positive changes in our lives. That, in and of itself, is a good start to the New Year.
Gregory Floyd is president, Teamsters Local 237, and vice president-at large on the General Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.