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Porter: This year's resolution: To do fewer things wrong

It’s time for me to make my New Year’s resolutions. But who am I kidding? I’ve never kept a resolution except maybe by accident. So much for my resolve.

My doctor wants me to go on a low-fat diet. That’s his resolution for me. I don’t really see it happening. He wants me to start exercising, too. Maybe this is the year I’ll start doing that. Starting is easy. Sticking with it is the hard part. Perhaps I’ll resolve to break my resolutions later in the year than normal. That shouldn’t be too difficult since “normal” is about a week into the new year.

If I resolve to exercise every day for two weeks, that will shatter my previous record. Then, maybe next year, I can resolve to exercise for three weeks. By the time I’m up to daily fitness for a full year, I’ll be dead.

This is the last year that I get to enjoy being in my 40s, so I’m not going to mess that up with a lot of agonizing, gut-wrenching, shirt-drenching calisthenics. So, I think, for 2014, I resolve to live life to its fullest and not worry too much about it. I can get serious in 2015. Or 16.

At some point, it becomes too late to do the right thing. But that isn’t this year.
If my doctor can make resolutions for me, then I should get to make resolutions for other people. That seems fair, doesn’t it? There are a whole lot of things I wish other people would do differently in the new year.

For instance, I wish the credit card scam people would stop calling my cellphone three times a day. My resolution for them is that every time they place a call to me, their desk chair spontaneously combusts.
I have some resolutions for my neighbors, but those notations did not clear the legal department.
Apparently, there’s a fine line between satire and making a domestic terrorist threat.

I can think of some resolutions for Congress, but really, where would I begin? I think a lot of problems in Congress could be resolved if there was a binding arbiter for disputes. And I think I should be that arbiter. Maybe you think I shouldn’t be, but as the binding arbiter, I overrule that thought.

I can think of additional resolutions for specific people, but it’s been my experience that people generally aren’t too receptive to directives from others regardless of how well-intentioned the criticism is. I know:
I’m the pot calling out the kettle, but let’s not get off topic. We’re talking about improvements the kettle can make, not what’s in the pot.

In the end, we really can only change ourselves. We can’t control what others say or do, but we can effect change by what we say and do and sometimes by what we refrain from saying or doing. Doing the right thing is one thing, but I think not doing the wrong thing is way underappreciated.

So, that’s my resolution for 2014: To do fewer wrong things. Or simply to do fewer things in hopes that some of the things I don’t do would have been the wrong thing if I had done them.

Do less, change the world. That’s my motto for the new year.

• David Porter can be reached at

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