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Welcome. A group of friends and I used to gather for brunch every year on New Year’s Day, and at the end of the meal, we’d each write a resolution on a slip of paper and put it in a hat. Then everyone drew from the hat, each receiving a random resolution, an assignment for the year from someone else at the table.
The resolution might be practical, something the person writing it hoped to do themselves: “Fold your clothes every night when you take them off,” “Sign up for voice lessons.” Or it might be something ridiculous: One year I drew, “Every morning when you wake up, stick your arms out at your sides, wiggle your fingers and say, “It’s showtime!”
We were trying to add some whimsy to resolution-making, to make entertaining a self-improvement practice that can sometimes feel punishing. As a result we were nudged out of our comfort zones (the friend who drew the “voice lessons” resolution actually took some lessons, something he wouldn’t have done otherwise). Since we hadn’t come up with the resolutions ourselves, they seemed like fun challenges rather than aspirations in pursuit of which we could fall short. (It took about a month for “It’s showtime” to fade from my morning schedule, but I still do it every now and then: a silly, theatrical flourish to start the day.)
For 2021, why not go gentle on the resolutions, keeping in mind that your nerves might be frayed, your zest for a life overhaul a bit depleted? Just as, earlier in the pandemic, I suggested making tiny changes in your day in order to create a routine instead of adopting a rigid schedule, you might look at resolutions as ways to tinker with your habits, not to totally replace them.
My colleague Christina Caron wrote a wonderful guide to downsizing your resolutions. Instead of declaring, “This is the year I get fit!,” start with something small, specific and attainable — this might be resolving to take a walk or jog, do a yoga video or stretch before bed a certain number of times per week. A small, achievable resolution is the perfect foundation on which to build. Get the satisfaction of following through on a reasonable goal, then you can build on it over the course of the year.
While you’re mulling your resolutions, I recommend this story about a service in D.C. that sells books by the foot to those who want to appear well-read on video calls.
I am enjoying the KCRW podcast “Welcome to L.A.,” in which the journalist David Weinberg tells a different, magical story about the city in each episode. My favorite episode so far: “The Case of the Missing Sprinkles,” about, among other things, the history of “The People’s Court.”
And here’s The Zombies performing “This Will Be Our Year” live in a bike shop in Austin in 2013.
What’s your small, manageable resolution for 2021? What tiny change will you commit to on this first day of the new year? Write to us: email@example.com. Include your name, age and location. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a good life at home, all year long, appear below.