New Year's Resolutions (12/28/05)

Dear Zelda,

I'm what you would call a "work-a-holic." I work 12 hours a day approximately 362 days a year. Vacations are rare and I don't know the last time I DIDN'T work on a weekend. I'm 36 years old, I love my job, and although I've been able to purchase all the toys (boat, camper, nice car, etc...) that it affords me, I'm too POOPED to enjoy them. My New Year's resolution is to slow waaaaaaaay down.

A little of your wisdom would be appreciated.

Pump the Brakes

Dear Pump the Brakes,

We've all heard the testosterone-addled phrase "he who dies with the most toys wins," but unfortunately, I've always been of the mindset that "he who dies with the most toys... is just dead."

You bring up a very valid point. What good are all the material things you have if you can't use them, and unless your camper is your "home sweet home," or you're sailing your boat to work, why bother? Are you trying to keep up with the "Joneses," or do you really believe that at some point you're going to be able to sit back, relax, and smell the weekend? A great work ethic is something to be proud of, but today you're 36, you'll be 46 before you know it, and 56 will sneak up even faster. Trust me! (At least you don't age seven years every year!). All the "toys" in the world can't rewind time. We spend all this effort working and saving and acquiring, amassing our toys and our resources, and we forget something obvious: TIME IS THE ULTIMATE NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCE.

What you need is a good twelve-step WA program (work-a-holics anonymous) to take you from work-a-holic... to recovering work-a-holic, ASAP! The first step was admitting it. Good job! Now you need to take the necessary steps to ensure that you don't fall off the wagon, spiraling into the black hole of WORK, WORK, and MORE WORK. Do you stay at work because you don't want to go home? Do you stay at work because you really have too much work? Or do you stay at work to pay for the mounting insurance on the ever-growing pile of "toys" that have become oversized dust-collectors? You need to figure out what it is that working hard really does for you, and if there are ways to achieve some of these goals without this heavy burden. But for now, let's make some concrete plans: as of today, your second step is to make sure that you DO NOT work any Sundays for the whole month of January. Now don't start sweating and panicking (think of it as work detox); you can do it. Start with baby steps. Once the Sunday thing has worked, expand it to Saturday, and make a habit of taking at least one weekend a month completely OFF. Call me crazy, but I don't think you were put here on Earth to be slapped into a cubicle-shaped isolation chamber and stare at a computer, only to wonder exactly why it is we were put here on Earth.

Once you get a taste of the recovery process, and of the freedom and peace of mind that follow, the rest of the steps will fall into place.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I read that this week's column is about New Year's resolutions. I've always been cynical about these because I think that no one ever sticks to them. What's the big deal about making them anyway? My New Year's resolution is not to make a New Year's resolution. Is that bad?

Resolution Free

Dear Resolution Free,

I've got good news and bad news. Bad News: you do realize that you just made a New Year's resolution...right? Good News: sounds like in the future you'll probably keep it!

What is the big deal, you ask? There really isn't one. The tradition of making New Year's resolutions dates back to the early Babylonians, when the most popular resolution was apparently to return borrowed farm equipment (a wise policy in a time when the punishment for theft was losing a hand!). How we became resolution-obsessed to quit smoking, lose weight, or go to the gym more often beats the heck out of me. Sure, we may be a little too unrealistically goal-oriented around this time of year, but I think that an occasion to reflect on our lives and the things we'd like to change in them is a good thing. This is a time of year when we remind ourselves that we are not just dogs on somebody else's leash and that we can actually make decisions as individuals that positively impact the future course of our lives and the lives of others. Believe it or not, there are people who have quit smoking, lost weight, and even gone to the gym more often because of it. (fyi...I wasn't one of them...ugh). Without that, New Year's is just an occasion to drink, buy a new calendar, and embarrass ourselves singing a song we don't understand.

Maybe the big risk in focusing on resolutions around the New Year is that we won't focus enough on setting and meeting these goals during the rest of the year. But even so, your line of reasoning is circular enough to make even the best of us tail-chasers jealous: people don't keep New Year's resolutions, and I want to make resolutions that I will keep, so I'll resolve not to make any resolutions at all! I think they call that "biting off your nose to spite your face." Wouldn't the better antidote to all those false promises be to make some reasonable resolutions and then KEEP THEM?

I agree with you that it's better to make reasonable resolutions you can commit to rather than unrealistic goals that go out the window the next time you catch a whiff of the deep fryer. But giving up resolutions altogether because you don't think you will keep them? Now that's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

My dog Jazzy just turned 2 and she's completely out of control, and my New Year's resolution is to do something about it. Any help and advice from you would be appreciated. Help me Zelda... Help, Help me Zelda...

Doggone Out Of Control

Dear Doggone Out Of Control,

I can relate! My roommate, best pal, and "understudy," ZeeZee, is approaching her terr-i-bull twos as well. She apparently didn't get the memo that there is only ONE Diva per household, and I'm it!

If your Jazzy is anything like our ZeeZee, the word "no" doesn't seem to be in her vocabulary. Jumping on people is the only way she can think to say "hello," and she's becoming so territorial that she's about to become her own state. I have four words for our little "Divas Gone Wild"...I DON'T THINK SO!

Now, the advice I give to you is the advice I'm taking myself. Our dear ZeeZee is heading to a tough but tender "boot camp" for ten days of intensive training. Given the fact that she's not really a puppy anymore, we've decided to leave it to the professionals to whip our snapper into shape. If this is a viable option for you and Jazzy, it would probably be best to check out some licensed trainers in your area and ask for references as well as any certificates that show their facilities have passed inspection and they're accredited to work in their field. Be sure to talk directly with people whose pets have graduated from their programs. Also, once Jazzy is enrolled, keep in close contact with the trainer. When the boot camp is completed, your little "marine" will be ready to report for duty at home.

If your budget doesn't bend for a trainer, however, there are also several good train-them-yourself books out there. You can "google" dog trainers and choose a book from a trainer who sounds simpatico for your situation. Another option is to check the obedience classes at Petco and PetSmart. They have a variety of reasonably priced obedience classes that can work for most schedules.

Any way you go about it, the bottom line for the New Year is: It's Time To Train!

Zelda