What Are the Odds?

On January 1, 2015, I resolved to dedicate the year to working to make retirement a reality. On January 1, 2016, I retired. Mission accomplished.

When I was sixteen, I resolved to stop biting my fingernails along with chewing other things such as pencil erasers, the plastic pocket clips on the caps of Bic pens, and the little bits of paper that are left behind after a page is torn from a spiral notebook. And I did. I stopped that habit in its tracks. 

In between those two successes, I can recall no resolutions, though there have been many, that I have kept. I estimate that the ratio of attempted resolutions to successful resolutions is 125:1. While those would be excellent lottery chances, in a life that would have benefitted from a great many improvements, they are dismal.

What can I conclude? When I compare retirement to nail biting, I find no similarities between the two goals regarding motivation or circumstances that may have favored success. It could be that I’ve not developed the willpower to make changes in my life and those two were just the right goals at the right time. 

If I want to increase my chances in the future, I could increase the number of resolutions I make. If that seems overly stressful, and it does - desperate even, I could maintain my current average annual load of goals and hope that I pick some winners and the numbers will be in my favor. After all, a single estimate spanning several decades couldn’t be statistically significant. The one thing I know is that I’ll keep trying. Now that I’m retired, I’ll have more time to do that.


North Chesterfield, VA