Evolution of personal resolutions

Randy Riley - Contributing Columnist

New Year’s resolutions are good. They are often very frustrating, but good.

It’s amazing to me how resolutions change over the years. I’m sure many people go through this type of evolution in their New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s the story of the evolution of my personal resolutions over the decades.

When I was a teenager, in the 1960s, I remember resolving to have more fun. My resolution was to spend more time with friends. I had a good job that I enjoyed, but I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends and having a good time with them more than I enjoyed stocking produce at the local IGA store.

Don’t get me wrong — I liked my job and considered myself lucky to work in such a good store. The owner of the store, Mr. Bradford, had been a customer on my newspaper route.

He told me that he liked my work ethic. He took a chance on me and hired me when I was only 15 years old. You could do things like that 50 years ago. So, I had good friends, a good job and resolved to have fun.

As I matured, married and entered the career of respiratory therapy, my New Year’s resolutions changed. I wanted to improve and advance in my career. My resolutions in the 1970s were about getting better jobs and keeping in good shape — exercising and staying fit.

Ten years later, my resolutions changed again. By then, I was a cancer survivor. My cholesterol was higher than it should have been. Weight control had become more of an issue. My resolutions became the typical resolutions of a middle-aged man; lose weight, exercise more, eat smarter and improve my overall health.

The next decade found me with new family obligations and multiple evolutions of my career. I worked hard to meet the demands of work and family obligations. New Year’s resolutions focused even more on health issues; get fit, jog more, get the cholesterol down and now I needed to start worrying about blood sugar levels.

It has been said that, “You have to be pretty tough to get old.” As I approached 50 years old I became a believer. Suddenly, I found myself taking daily medications for the cholesterol and blood sugar. My knees were shot. An orthopedic surgeon told me that my knees were 20 years older than I was, and that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when I would need total knee replacement surgery. (I’m still putting that off.) Resolutions during that decade were also about career and health.

Finally, with over 30 years in healthcare, I was able to retire. It was at about that same time that a friend pointed out that I needed to relax more and enjoy life and family more. He told me that when you walk through a cemetery, you will never see a headstone inscribed with, “Gee, I wish I had spent more time at work.”

With that observation, my New Year’s resolutions really started to change.

According to Time magazine, these are the top-10 New Year’s resolutions; 1) get fit and lose weight, 2) quit smoking, 3) learn something new, 4) eat healthier and diet, 5) get out of debt and save money, 6) spend more time with family, 7) travel to new places, 8) be less stressed, 9) volunteer more, and, 10) drink less.

In the Time article, it was noted that these basic-10 resolutions haven’t changed much over the decades. But, I would propose that as the decades change us, the ranking of these top 10 resolutions change. Now, my top priority is to spend more time with family and secondly to travel with my family to new places.

It’s amazing how the years can allow us to circle back to the same priorities we had when we were young. Now, at the age of 65 and with much more time on my hands, I go back to the same resolution I had as a teenager; spend more time with friends and have fun.

There is another resolution that is not listed in the Time magazine top 10 list. I feel that it is one that we should all take on as a New Year’s resolution for 2016:

Resolve to be a better person.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.


Randy Riley

Contributing Columnist