As the New Year approached, I found myself thinking back to all the resolutions I’ve made, and, subsequently, failed miserably to keep. To be more organized, for example. To be more responsible. To call my parents more often. To get more non-ice cream/half-and-half forms of calcium into my diet. (All these failures even led me recently to consider, albeit briefly, taking up smoking again, so that I could resolve to quit. I ditched the idea when it occurred to me I might not succeed.) These minor lifestyle tweaks are hardly impossible: I’m not resolving to run a marathon, climb Mount Everest, or get taller. Yet, inevitably, they fall by the wayside. Come mid-month, I’ve shamefully returned to my unorganized, irresponsible, phone- and dairy-shirking ways, feeling like nothing but a big ol’ osteoporosis-bound loser. The same is true for most people I know (not necessarily the same aversion to milk-drinking, but the same grand plans, followed by the same failure to change). Which makes me wonder: Why do we do it? Why, for the love of God, do we insist on beginning each fresh new year by setting ourselves up for disappointment?

It’s not exactly a mystery. Take a look around: Headlines bellow “New Year, New You!” and break down how to turn yourself into a shiny new person in five easy steps, offering advice on everything from how to lose 10 pounds to how to organize your closet, all laced with the not-so-subtle message that you are not good enough as you are. Gym memberships skyrocket in January, as do sales of self-help books, and listings on mate- and job-hunting Web sites. Good intentions are everywhere, but you know what they say about good intentions — the road to hell is paved with ’em.

And so, this year, I’ve resolved to stop being so hard on myself, to learn how to be content with the way I am, and to embrace myself — my unorganized, irresponsible, phone- and dairy-shirking warts and all. And hopefully, this one will take. If not, at least I’ve spared myself the chore of dumping out another carton of expired milk.

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