At this time of year, it’s common to make New Year’s resolutions.
But deciding to do something that will likely take most of the following 12 months to achieve—or longer if it’s a lifestyle change—is not best done after a few drinks to celebrate the arrival of the new year.
In my case, the resolution that prompted me to swear off resolutions was not a long-term goal but rather a bucket-list experience that not only shrunk my resolve to make future resolutions, it also shrunk parts of my anatomy that I best not describe here.
Many years ago when I lived in Vancouver, in an alcohol-fuelled fit of bravado one New Year’s Eve, I declared to my friends that my resolution was to try something new each month, starting with the next day’s annual Vancouver Polar Bear swim.
As resolutions go, it was not up there with losing weight, getting fit or any of those other ones where you have to actually do some real work to achieve the goal.
In my case, it was just getting to the shores of English Bay on time, doffing my clothes and strolling into what I thought would be the cool, but not unbearably cold, waters of Georgia Strait.
But when you are hungover and rushing out the door the morning after the night before, checking the weather forecast is not top of mind. How bad could it be? It was Vancouver.
The snow on the ground should have been the first clue. As it turned out, the one and only time I participated in the Polar Bear swim it was (up to then) record cold both on the beach (-3 C) and in the water (just above 0 C). I had to wade through snow on the beach just to get into the frigid water.
Now, I’m sure there are hardy souls out there who regularly indulge in such madness and may even enjoy it. Not me. I’m happy to say, “Been there, done that and got the T-shirt.”
Many around me appeared to have not stopped drinking prior to splashing in the water but I had sobered up enough to pray I would make it back to the beach before hypothermia set in.
So, as I stood there shivering with my feet ice cold in the snow, I thought to myself: How could this be so? (Sorry Dr. Seuss.) How could I have done something so silly on a whim?
It was at that moment I swore off New Year’s resolutions.
Well, kinda. I actually did make one more, and it is one I have stuck to every year since—not to make New Year’s resolutions any more.
But to those who do, good luck.
To those who don’t, just get on with your life. But no matter what you do, happy New Year.
Alistair Waters is the Capital News assistant editor.