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Jack Knox: Resolutions: If at first you don't succeed, why keep trying?

Most of us have a tough time sticking to our resolutions for a new year, from losing weight to being a better human.
New York Islanders' Anders Lee (27) redirects the puck while being checked by the Canucks’ Tyler Myers (57) in front of goalie Spencer Martin during the first period in Vancouver on Tuesday. The Islanders went on to win 6-2 and Jack Knox came away feeling ripped off after going to Vancouver to see the game live. DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS

I went to the wrong side of the strait for a Canucks game last week, my first since the players wore mullets.

“Is Dennis Ververgaert still in the line-up?” I asked. No, not since 1979. Oh.

Before the game, I was surprised by how cheap my tickets were. Afterward, I felt ripped off.

Good lord but the Canucks were dreadful. They were like me on New Year’s Eve: showed up at 7 p.m., but packed it in by 8. Less energy than a dollar store battery, softer than a summer breeze. Sharon, Lois and Bram played with more intensity. Wilkie has had better break-outs. Vanilla Ice had more hits.

The team’s performance dredged up an old quote about one of the league’s more gifted but less motivated captains: “He was a true leader. He quit first.”

Which, naturally, made me think of New Year’s resolutions.

It is now exactly a week since many people vowed to make big changes this year. Lose weight, gain confidence, spend less, exercise more, whatever.

Alas for those of you who made such promises, an oft-quoted U.S. study says there’s a one in five chance you will already have given up by now, your determination having disappeared like the shortbread you vowed would stay in the cookie jar. The best-before date on the eggnog outlived your resolve.

To which I say good for you. Get ahead of the curve. Beat the rush.

For here’s what other stories report: more than half of all ­resolution-makers will bail out by the six-month mark, while just eight per cent will ultimately declare success. The numbers vary depending on which study you study, but the trend is always the same, toward overwhelming failure.

That’s too bad, because — and here I repeat myself — if Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and who we are, New Year’s resolutions are about feeling rotten about what we don’t and who we aren’t. (Faults? You’ve got faults so deep they take your temperature with a seismograph.) It’s a feeling that worsens when our attempts to address our weaknesses fall short, our pride punctured by the jagged shards of our shattered self-esteem.

That being the case, why prolong the agony? Why not quit now?

This would seem the appropriate response given a couple of workplace trends that emerged from the pandemic, ones that sold the virtue of pulling the plug rather than enduring more aggravation.

First, there was the phenomenon known as “quiet quitting” in which employees didn’t actually leave their jobs, but decided they would no longer sacrifice themselves in service of a thankless employer, either. No unpaid overtime. No answering emails after hours. No dropping down to block a Connor McDavid slapshot.

Then there was the much ballyhooed Great Resignation in which masses of workers supposedly did quit their jobs, choosing to Big Lebowski their way through life in a bathrobe rather than return to the office in business attire. I say “supposedly” because there’s a certain amount of evidence that the Great Resignation didn’t really happen, at least not as presented. Plenty of people ditched their jobs but when they did so it was often to move to better ones, not to Lebowski’s bowling team.

In fact, the percentage of Canadians in the labour force in December was just half a point below where it was pre-pandemic. The percentage of wage-earning “core-aged” Canadian women — that is, those between 25 and 54 — hovered around an all-time high, Statistics Canada reported on Friday. A great grey wave of Baby Boomers might be aging out, but the proportion of young Canadian men who were working was at its highest level since April 2019. Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate was at a ridiculously low 3.4 per cent last month.

So, maybe this quitting idea isn’t really that popular after all. And as far as falling short of our goals goes, consider the quote attributed, almost certainly erroneously, to Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.” Failure might suck, but being unhappy with where you are and not attempting to do anything about it isn’t exactly a recipe for success, either.

Note that the Canucks came back with a much better effort in their next game, beating Colorado. Still got most of the year to go, might as well get back up and keep trying.

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