I am in the mood to streamline, readers. Last night I filed a foot-high stack of paperwork, which had been lingering in my studio for months. I’ve taken a full carload to Goodwill, and filled up a city-sized trash can with junk, and bought fancy binders to organize all of my recipes and guitar tabs and scribbled music notes. I threw away my busted flip phone and got the slimmest, shiniest, sexiest phone they make And, flipping through the West Elm catalog at work while the plotter was, well, plotting, I realized instantly that my couch is disrupting the flow of chi in my house. I need to circulate better mojo in there. Only a sleek, modernist couch will help.
Anyway. It’s a January thing. New Year’s clean-out. Everything in your life is entitled to a makeover in January, right?
I usually make the same resolution: learn to play “Blackbird” on the guitar. And most years I start working on it, and realize that it’s not so hard, once you slow it down, and I figure out the first few measures, and practice it for a few days, and eventually forget what my resolution was. Thus, I still can’t play “Blackbird” on the guitar. The New York Times just wrote a whole article on sticking to resolutions. Turns out that a huge number of people fail at resolutions, and fairly quickly. But people who make a resolution are exponentially more likely to achieve a goal, than people who have a goal and vaguely wish someone would do something about it. The people who know they’ll fall off the wagon and find ways to “outsource willpower,” however, are most successful of all.
I was pretty smug when I read the article, because I’d already signed up on stickk.com. The good people at Yale did some research about getting people to achieve things, and people almost always do better if they have something at stake other than the goal itself. I’d heard that you could commit to giving money to a charity if you didn’t meet your goal, and I thought, “Great! If I fail, at least the money will do some good for someone.” And then I logged in, and discovered that you could commit to giving money to an anti-charity if you fail. As in, something you despise. As in, just as a random example, the NRA, if you were the small sensitive child who was traumatized by watching Bambi’s mother get shot, and then cried through the rest of the movie in her seat. When I found the anti-charity option, suddenly I was all, “I SHALL NOT FAIL.” I picked a reasonable fitness goal, one that is definitely achievable, but with a time span long enough that it should make a satisfying difference. My first weekly report (I hate to brag,) was pretty badass. I’m aware that it’ll get harder as the novelty wears off, but that’s why I enlisted help from Yale.
Fourteen more weeks to Merlefest. Fourteen more weeks of good fitness behavior. Fourteen more weeks of Giving No Money to the National Rifle Association. I hope to feel a little streamlined by then, on a whole bunch of fronts. It’s not really a resolution. It’s not even my most important goal this year, by half. But it’s a good place to start.