An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. -Bill Vaughan

If a resolution is made on New Year’s Day and no one is there to hear it, does it exist? After all, they say revealing your resolutions will automatically void them and they’ll never come true.

Wait, that’s the rule for birthday wishes, not resolutions. Still, it may be wise to keep them to ourselves. Maybe revealing them is why they rarely come to fruition. If you don’t tell anyone and, despite your best intentions, end up failing miserably, who will know the difference? Just you-and you can go easy on yourself.

If you feel obligated to resolve something, one approach is to go ahead and keep it quiet, eliminating any possibility of public disappointment.

After all, if you walk around with your Victoria’s Secret catalog, showing everyone the big red circle around the two-piece you’ll definitely fit into by next summer, you may be sabotaging yourself.

While revealing your goal won’t necessarily change your odds of reaching it, the public awareness you threw out there just might.

This low-key approach is good for guilt-ridden people who can’t stomach the thought of disappointing anyone.

The alternative is to share your resolutions with the world and hope it swings the other way, drumming up some self-motivation.

Maybe you’ll be inspired by the chance at showing your friends and family just how dedicated you are to your cause.

This too seems to be a good approach for guilt-ridden people who can’t stomach the thought of disappointing anyone.

This dilemma is why I don’t bother with big resolutions. I can appreciate the chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, but I don’t think January is a magical time of year when the path to a goal is suddenly paved in gold with flashing arrows pointing the way.

Like most disasters and successes, that usually happens at a more unexpected moment.

Big goals are intimidating, especially this time of year. We just made it through another busy holiday season. This isn’t the time to worry about losing weight. It’s time to eat the leftovers.

Instead of resolving overwhelming goals that may or may not be met, maybe we should aim a little lower and find satisfaction in smaller accomplishments.

You finally cleaned out your closet and threw away those old shoes? Well, by all means, go get yourself a new pair.

(Maybe this isn’t the most fiscal approach, but unless you’ve made some sort of money-saving resolution, you can see where I’m going with this.)

Every time I open the paper and see my column, I buy myself a new bracelet charm. And when I find the discipline to finish a column sooner than the day before deadline, I might just buy two charms.

* * *

My niece Kerri is getting married Jan. 7. She will be the first grandchild to get married, so it’s sort of a milestone for our family.

For me, it means I am one step closer to becoming “Great Aunt Shelley” at some point in the future.

At her bridal shower in November, we asked guests to write words of wisdom handed down from their mothers or tips they have learned along the way.

I’m sure Kerri now knows all she needs to know about marriage, from the practical (Train him to put the toilet seat down.) to the questionable (Don’t swing cats around in a bucket.) to the often overlooked (Don’t play with jaguars.).

The cat advice came from one of my sisters. Apparently there was a bucket incident when she was a little girl. I’ve never witnessed her swinging cats around, so I can assume she learned her lesson the first time. The jaguar tip was from my 7-year-old. Even though she meant it literally, I have no doubt her advice could somehow be applied to marriage.

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