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To have a resolution, aspire | Art & Appetite


Last updated 1/4/2017 at Noon

For some folks, the idea of setting goals or resolutions for the new year elicit a contemptuous look and a world-class eye roll.

I have a friend – we'll call him Joe – who said something like this: “There's just no point. Within a couple of days I've completely abandoned my resolution. I just don't do them anymore.” Fair enough; I feel your pain, dude.

But for others, this simple exercise has the effect of generating a little order and meaning in an otherwise chaotic world. People of this persuasion actually enjoy sitting down and imaging how things could be.

Until recently, I fell into Joe's camp. I didn't see a lot of purpose to coming up with a resolution I was unlikely to meet. Our general tendency is to be skeptical, to chuckle, maybe even to taunt the resolution maker. But I’ve come to believe this is a mistake.

I recently gave up using tobacco. I had a lot of difficulty, until a friend suggested that I set a quit date. The simple action of going to the calendar, finding a reasonable time and wholly committing myself to the idea, made all the difference. I had failed in the past because planning didn't play much of a role – I just had an ill-defined desire to stop.

A resolution is a critical first step if you really want to make a change. Before the action, you must have the thought.

You’ll see firsthand the impact of the newly resolved at your local health club. At the beginning of every new year the place will be swarming with people, but will be back to normal by about mid-March.

I even experienced a little bump in the book business. Every year a few folks who have resolved to read more wander into my store.

Does the fact that many resolutions fail or meet with minimal success make them less valuable? Not at all. It's good to have goals. In fact, it may be essential to our well-being.

What does it say about a person who has no aspirations? When we lose hope, when we give up, we tend to stop planning. Even if our resolution has little chance of success, you may be germinating an idea that will eventually lead to big things.

2016 has been a rough year for some of us.

To all of you I say – don't give up hope. Creating the world you want to live in begins new each day. Set some goals. Don't surrender.

Here’s a lofty resolution that I'm willing to share with anyone: Let's move toward a non-zero-sum world. A place where victory for one does not spell defeat for another. Oh – I'm also planning on cutting back on processed sugar.

James Spangler is the owner of Spangler Book Exchange in Edmonds and an aficionado of all things art and appetite. Do you know of a Snohomish County restaurant, art gallery or theatrical show worthy of a review? Call him at 206-795-0128 or email him at


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