Sunday, January 24th, 2021

O Shopper Columns


After the year that was 2020, I was stumped when it came to making New Year resolutions for 2021. Actually, “stumped” isn’t the right word. Truth be told, I simply had no interest in this annual ritual.

Does that mean I have no goals for the coming year, that I’ve simply given up? Far from it. But I think I’ve reached a point in my life when listing New Year resolutions, even if that list is merely mental, seems like a waste of time and energy.

I began 2020 with resolutions. I assume they were similar to the ones I’d made in previous years. I use the word “assume” because those resolutions were forgotten by March—and not just because of the COVID pandemic. Most resolutions from prior years were forgotten in a matter of weeks. There were some exceptions. In January 2003, I resolved to work out daily, eat right, and get in the best shape of my life. By May of that year, I did just that and couldn’t have been happier with the results. For the next five years, one of my annual resolutions was maintaining the exercise, diet, and fitness level. The accomplishment brought with it a healthy measure of self-confidence and satisfaction.  Nothing at all wrong with that!

But there were still other areas in my life where self-confidence and satisfaction were lacking. I wasn’t unhappy or depressed. I was simply aware of a constant, low-level anxiety—this subtle sensation that whispered, “Something’s still missing.”

I think that most of us know that feeling, which is why making New Year resolutions seems like such a good idea. List them, remember them, do them, and we will be happy. And what is the focus of the typical resolutions? Physical fitness. Better use of time. Career progress. Financial prosperity. Finding our soul mate, or, if we’re in a relationship, remaking it into some supposed ideal.

What all such resolutions have in common is that they’re outward-looking. If we’re successful at this, “crush” that, earn something, or connect with the right person, then we will be someone other than who we are. That “something’s-still-missing” feeling will magically go away.
But who we are doesn’t go away. It can’t. I seriously doubt that there is a “new me” in my future or that “reinventing oneself” has any meaning outside the realm of celebrity marketing gimmicks. And who really wants to market themselves anyway? That would mean selling one’s identity, trading it away for…what?

Instead of making resolutions aimed at outward accomplishments, perhaps we should begin the year by looking inward and regularly asking ourselves a few simple questions. What matters most to me? Do I honestly value the things to which I’m devoting my time and energy? Who are the people I genuinely love and experience joy with? Lofty goals and grandiose dreams aside, can I be happy knowing that, on any given day, I am trying to do better?

Rob Lauer is an award-winning, nationally-produced and published playwright with over 35 years of experience in the entertainment industry. His national credits include production work for MGA Films, Time/Warner TV, The Learning Channel and The History Channel. Locally, Rob has been producing, directing and hosting three TV series for PCTV (the City of Portsmouth’s official channel) since 2011.