PROMISES, PROMISES

Every year at this time I begin thinking of an unusual outfit I wrote a piece about years ago and wonder if it’s still alive and thriving. I guess it’s gone under since Google never heard of it. Apparently the Resolution Enforcement Society was the victim of its members lack of self-discipline and fear of public humiliation.

The year RES was created about four out of ten Americans made New Year’s resolutions and most of that promising group managed to achieve at least partial success during the next 12 months.

RES members would each deposit $1,000 with the Society and submit a list of New Year’s resolutions they were making to improve good habits and eliminate bad ones. There were monthly inspirational classes and opportunities to volunteer for networking to encourage fellow members during periods of overwhelming temptation. Those who proved loyal to their pledges would receive end-of-year rebates of $900 plus interest and framed certificates of achievement.

There were RES surveillance team visits and interviews and periodic weigh-ins for those who promised to diet. Repetitive backsliders were weeded out and large fines imposed to pay for ads in local newspapers with the names and photos of the flagrant defaulters for all their friends and neighbors to see and giggle at.

That’s probably the cause of the Society’s demise. It’s possible to eventually forget the loss of a few hundred dollars, but being posted on the Losers List with the resulting neighborhood giggles can leave permanent scars.

Without professional help most of us will just stumble along on our own, hoping against hope that, by some miracle, this will be the year we actually keep the New Year’s promises we’ve made to ourselves.

For some, the chances are slim. “I was reading a Saturday Evening Post article about the strong possibility of one’s moderate drinking getting out of hand,” a friend told me recently.

“So you’re giving up drinking?”

“No, I’m cancelling my Saturday Evening Post subscription.”

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