Maxed Out 

Resolving the new year's problems

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There's a raging - okay, simmering - debate among mental health professionals, nosey busybodies and armchair quacks about the benefits or harm of making New Year's resolutions. In the pro-resolution camp are those who fall back on platitudes such as, "No pain; no gain. Without setting goals you never accomplish anything. If you don't know where you're going you're nowhere," and other such nonsense.

The no-resolution camp posits the simple truth that the vast majority of people have virtually no reserve of resolve. In other words, all they're doing is setting themselves up for yet another in the unending string of failures in their lives, so why bother. Life deals each of us enough setbacks over which we have no control; why add to the misery by burdening ourselves with more baggage of failure?

Having feet firmly in both camps, I have, over the years, moderated my own resolutions, aiming for targets even I could reach. For example, recognizing the reality of the holidays and the cornucopia of seasonal indulgence, I resolved some years ago to finish all the leftover chocolate in the house no later than the middle of January. I not only succeeded but beat my self-imposed deadline, something Mr. Barnett wishes I could do more often for him.

Over the years, I've honed my resolutions down to one: I resolve to make no resolutions. Once again this year, I succeeded handsomely, with the expected, annual boost to my self-esteem. Those who know me recognize this model as the genesis of my self-esteem generating seminars for others, the patented Start Smoking series that guarantees - and rarely fails - to get you smoking and keep you smoking after a single weekend retreat. Hey, everybody has to succeed at something.

Being a guy who clearly wants to see people succeed and who believes, kind of, in New Year's resolutions, it's not beyond the scope of my empathetic caring to offer resolutions for others. Yes, I know, generous to a fault.

As a group, I'd really like to see our mayor and council succeed. No, really. I have a deep respect for their tireless work; if they didn't do it, you or I might have to. Imagine yourself having to listen to some of the drivel they're assaulted with at public question time without making raspberry noises or throwing your Official Muni Water Bottle at the misinformed, cretinous, concerned citizen - columnist - droning on about what a loser you are. Sends chills up my spine.

Frankly, I'm concerned the way things are going none of them will be re-elected this November. So, offered with an open heart and the best of intentions, here are five resolutions I think they should adopt to turn their fortunes around in the next 10 months.

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