Our Town: Little goals, big goals or no goals at all

Dr Tom Ferraro

Little goals, big goals or no goals at all
January 3, 2022

(Photo with caption “The architect, Jared Mandel is a part of the magic of a simple life in a town called Williston Park.”)

Once again, it’s time to make those New Year’s resolutions and we all know how that works. The theory behind this process is a good one. Reflecting upon the past year and making a firm decision to do or not do something in the future.

There is a long history to New Year’s resolutions that date back 4,000 years to the Babylonians, who marked the New Year in the spring before harvest time by promising to return farm equipment that was once borrowed. During Roman times, Caesar determined that the New Year begins on Jan. 1 after the Roman God Janus, the two-faced figure who looks backwards as well as forwards.

The tradition of reflecting upon the past year and resolving to improve in the new year continues unabated and modern-day resolutions often mirror modern-day problems, so we hear people wanting to lose weight, get more organized, spend less money, enjoy life more, stay fit or fall in love. All worthy goals indeed. But alas, statistics show that only about 8 percent of people who make resolutions achieve them. That’s a weak stat.

As you might guess, there is an abundance of tips you can use to increase your chances for success. These include framing the resolution in positive terms, spend time each day assessing whether you are making progress, keep it simple, pick a goal which will make you feel better, define it clearly and my personal favorite which is “to ink it.” That means write it down and keep it in a place that you see it each day.

These are all worthy suggestions. I type out my goals for the year and I tend to get about a third of them done by year’s end. Bucket list goals like traveling to Capri or Lake Como tend to get accomplished with regularity. Weight loss efforts have worked, but that is because I know how to manage my sweet cravings with harsh penalties such as giving my significant other $20 if I have any sweets that day. That strategy is called response cost, and it works well.

Other goals, however, like making more money, networking more vigorously or finding happiness seem to resist change. This year my big goal is to get my book to the publisher on time (Sept. 1, 2022) and progress is heading in that direction.

But as I age and as the grim reaper continues to make his presence felt, it dawns on me what a key resolution should be. It is about the little things in life rather than the big things. Indeed, it is nice to go to Paris for a few days or to get another book published by Routledge. It is nice to play golf in Pebble Beach and hang out in Carmel-by-the-Sea. These are big things for sure.

But the bulk of the joy in any life most certainly comes from the small things of everyday life. Things like knowing all the shopkeepers in Williston Park. Luigi Suppa, the tailor; Jared, the architect; or Harry, the deli owner. And then there is Allan Walsh, the jeweler; the florist, Konstan; or Hunter and Tom of Hildebrandt’s. The sweetness of Marty in the post office and Suhwa and Minho in Aroma Hair and Nails. All this is the small town magic of Williston Park.

Our days are long and stressful, but in between the stress are the simple quotidian pleasures of the day like going to pick up lunch at Hildebrandt’s or dropping off the mail and saying hi to Marty or picking my shirts up at the cleaners and having David Kim say “Hello, Dr. Ferraro!”

The simple goodness of a life is embedded in the community, a term which becomes increasingly eradicated as we shelter in and avoid death by COVID. So my biggest new year’s resolution is to appreciate these little things that make up my life. These are the daily rituals that sustain us. The kind looks of familiar faces that smile and say hello. If I can accomplish that goal this year, it will be a very good year. The success of living and working in a place that is familiar and that you can call your home.

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Dr Tom Ferraro

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