New Year’s goals and resolutions are still popping up on blogs and in conversations. Part of that is because I am seeing people I haven’t seen since 2006, part of it is that the kids have just gone back to school (mine looking as though a guillotine awaited them in French class) and that is the real beginning of the new year, and part of it is that these are long-term goals and we can still be talking about them all year.

But part of it is also that sense that we keep making  these resolutions or developing these goals, and often don’t meet them. So there are conversations that are about whether there is any point in continuing to try to quit smoking, get our finances in order, lose weight, improve our relationships, be faithful with study and prayer — and so on and so on, when we have to remake the same resolutions every year. No wonder people are coming up with goals like “Don’t buy any unneeded yarn in 2007.”

Actually, I accomplish a lot of my goals. But some goals are not the kind you can accomplish and then you are through. When Blessing and Partygirl and That Man and I have discussed our firm intentions to get back to our health regimes — and subsequent failure to do so – – we are not talking about two weeks on South Beach and then we can get back to our daily lives. We have to get up every morning and not eat bacon and eggs and biscuits and gravy (or croissants with jam and cafe Toro; take your pick). For the rest of our lives. We have to go to the gym or run in the park or do that Pilates class every day. For the rest of our lives. That Man, who successfully quit smoking a couple of years back, still has to get up every day and decide not to have a cigarette.

I was thinking about that this morning at the gym. There are a couple of middle-aged women there who have been going for a year now. The one with the large, jiggly bottom? She still has it. The one with the bottom that slopes down toward her knees? She still has it.

I was behind them yesterday on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I will not describe my bottom for you, in order to preserve my anonymity.

The point is, at least for those of us in middle age, we are in for the long haul. We are not doing a six-week program to look good in our bikinis for spring break. We have to take care of our bodies all the time, however bored we get with it, and even though we can be quite certain that at the end of all this effort we will simply be more wrinkled. In fact, at the end of it, we will be dead.

It is the same with those goals to get organized. My pantry and craft cupboard and linen cupboard have been beautifully organized spaces at various points in the year, but now I have to get them organized all over again. And even if Blessing and I both get our houses all cleaned up over the weekend as we plan to, we will have to do it again next week. (Not Partygirl; her children are grown.)

It reminds me of another remark from the conversation about prayer I was involved in the other night. You don’t have to enjoy praying, one said, and you don’t have to see results, but you do have to keep doing it. Every single day.

So, while I have some goals that are measurable and realistic, as goals are supposed to be, and which I intend to check off with satisfaction, I also have some that are just part of the daily slog. The New Year is a good time to recommit to things that we have let slide, but essentially it is just a matter of doing it — or trying to do it — every single day. Whether we enjoy it or not. Whether we see results or not. Because it is the right thing to do.