An Old Man’s 7 Resolutions for a New Year

As we age, it seems, life presents us with two options: denial or humility. And, in my opinion, if you decide to trade-in your denial about your limitations for a little bit of humility, you might as well fold some of that humility into your New Year’s resolutions…

funny new year's resolutions

Photo Credit: Gustavo Frazao (Bigstock)

This year, I’m going to stretch.

I’m not going to stretch because I’m training for the 2020 Summer Olympics or a marathon or a Tough Mudder, or even a 5k. No, these days, at the ripe old age of 41, I’m not stretching out of ambition, I’m stretching for the sake of prevention. I’m stretching so I can walk into the grocery store without a limp. So I can ascend a flight of stairs without pulling a hamstring. So I can roll out of bed without throwing out my back.

When I was younger, my New Year’s Resolutions were usually, in some way, related to conquering the world; now, as I age, my goal is a bit more ordinary: I just want to continue functioning in the world. So, if you’re like me and time has humbled you—if you now realize that mind-over-matter is a privilege of youth and, in the end, matter always wins, by eventually changing form—here is a list of New Year’s Resolutions for you to consider.

After all, it’s a worthy goal to be an upstanding citizen, but the older you get, the more you need to focus on simply standing up…

  1. Floss carefully. When you were young, you could go from Halloween to New Year’s—through buckets of chocolate and plates of pumpkin pie and stockings full of candy canes—without brushing your teeth once, and the dentist in January would still tell you that your “hygiene” looks great. Now, you miss a day of flossing and they want to send you to the periodontist. Resolution: Floss twice a day.
  1. Eat carefully. When you were young, you were like a woodchuck, and you could chomp on anything—jawbreakers and gobstoppers and ice and whatever—without any concern for your teeth. Now, a mouth full of almonds will almost certainly crack a crown. Resolution: Eat only one almond at a time.
  1. Sneeze carefully. When you were young, you could walk through a dust storm and stifle every sneeze—your body was powerful enough to contain the force of it. Now, if you try to be silent during a sneeze, you’ll probably herniate a disc. Resolution: When you sneeze, hold on to something, bend your knees, and let it fly. Don’t worry about volume.
  1. Bend carefully. When you were young, you could bend sideways and pick a nickel off the pavement from a moving car. You were Gumby with acne. Now, if you bend over to pick up anything without a little forethought, you might not be able to bend over again for a very, very long time. Resolution: Never, ever again bend over from the waist. Always squat. Add this to next year’s Resolutions list right now.
  1. Dress carefully. When you were young, you could flirt with frostbite and and hardly feel it. Now, if your toes get a little cold, they may not warm up again until summer. Resolution: Buy wool socks. Wear them shamelessly.
  1. Drink carefully. When you were young, your insulin system was, too. You could drink a mocha latte for breakfast, a Mountain Dew for lunch, and a Captain ’n’ Coke for dinner—everyday—and your body would mostly function like it was supposed to. Now, a week of that, and you’ll gain ten pounds, your blood pressure will set records, and your pancreas will go on strike. Resolution: Water. Drink lots of water.
  1. Breathe carefully. When you were young, breathing wasn’t something you had to think about. Like play and laughter and being carefree, it came naturally. Now, you need to focus on your breath, attend to it, breathe slowly, cultivate mindfulness of the life force that keeps you going, and learn how to be present again. So that one day you might remember how to play and laugh and be carefree once more. Resolution: Ten minutes a day of mindful breathing. Life’s too short to not practice paying attention to it.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Seven resolutions from this old man for this new year. I hope they help you, too.

And don’t forget the stretching.

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Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

24 thoughts on “An Old Man’s 7 Resolutions for a New Year

  1. Kelly, I chuckled when I read this. At 60, I’m in need of these and many more related to my body. In fact, I just bought a wonderful little workout book titled, The RBG Workout. The author has been Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer since 1999. She’s 84 today and apparently quite fit. I figured if it’s been that good for her it would probably be a workout I could do too. Turns out I was right. It’s an awesome book.

  2. I would add to the list, “Go to the doctor”. For the desire to save a buck, the idea that I would make it past whatever ailed me, and probably several other reasons related to fear or humiliation, I haven’t been to a doctor much. Now that I’m 40, I don’t seem to just get past things anymore and the money is way more for complications than for check-ups and quick remedies to early findings of issues. I used to think 40 year old’s were super old and I’d never get to that point with issues so many of them said they faced. Now I think I have more things in common with 70 year old’s than I’m comfortable with, and that they aren’t so far down the road from me

    • That’s a good word, JC. What’s that old saying, “An ounce of prevention?” Forty sneaks up on you doesn’t it? I suppose the quicker you face it, the quicker you can get back ahead of it!

  3. Truth – thank you for softening it with humor. I appreciate the reminder that I’m not in this aging process alone!

  4. All true, all humorous. I would add an 8th from just a few months shy of Medicare: S-T-R-E-T-C-H your brains. I’d rather clean a toilet than read something dense …. Dense …. makes me think of devil’s food cake, which reminds me I need to pick up half-and-half next time I’m near a store …. store, storing fat on my hips — really have to make better use of that gym membership. Gym … Jim …. we should go to the gym together besides just using the side-by-side hydro-massage chairs. Massage …. that’s kind of like message …. where was I going with this message?

  5. i’m now 65 and the poop just hit the fan for me this year …. or rather , I finally faced up to it. The chronic health issues are here to stay so it’s management time. Pain is more frequent. Mindful breath work and yoga seem to transmute pain into information i can manage. I’ve always been extremely physical and intend to stay that way, come Hell or high water.
    The real kicker: i took up tango and it’s a love affair that both terrifies and exhilarates me; lots of endorfins, and definite stretching of both hemispheres. An excellent companion activity to mindful meditation.
    Also, after living in the 3rd world I seem to have a much greater sense of gratitude for all the advantages i was provided.
    Counting our blessings and sharing them is preventive medicine too.

    • Kate, there’s all sorts of wonderful wisdom in this comment, but the following is priceless: “Mindful breath work and yoga seem to transmute pain into information i can manage.” Pain becoming information we can manage. That’s a game changer.

  6. The other day I read a 104 year old Japanese doctors advice for living a long life………He had no intention of retiring or slowing down. So Im pretty sure 41 is young!

  7. I’m only going to be 66 in two months so I’m going to run another marathon…but I will promise to stretch!

    • Ha! Cynthia, you are an inspiration to us all. And on the list of things my wife still misses about Wheaton, running with you remains near the top. Hope your next marathon is a great one!

  8. Funny and SERIOUS!!! I’ll check on you in July about the follow-through. You do the same to me!! 😎

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