Recipe For Success:

Resolve to be moderate, moral

December 27, 2007|By Barbara Venezia

I love this time of year: We look back at the past 12 months, beat ourselves up a little about what we could’ve done differently and promise we’ll do better next year.

We strive for the “perfect year” every New Year. Like a junkie chasing that first high that can never be recaptured, the best we can hope for is as few regrets as possible.

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions goes all the way back to ancient times, probably Babylonia. In 153 B.C. the Romans decided to change the new year from March 1 to Jan. 1. Some scholars believe Janus is the god of beginnings.


With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus’ name is the root of the word “January.”

For centuries people have been making resolutions, but most give up before Feb. 1.

So maybe it’s time to change the way we approach our New Years Resolutions. Instead of making a long overwhelming list, here are two simple suggestions for your own recipe for success in 2008.

1. Moderation

Life is as complicated as we make it. If you’re constantly in the middle of self-created chaos that you call “problem solving,” it’s time to discover balance. Ask yourself daily, if not minute-by-minute, “is this the moderate course of action?” The mental awareness of balance will prevent overreaction emotionally, financially and morally, which are the triggers for most overindulgent behaviors like eating, drinking, spending and anger.

2. Examine Your Moral Compass

Your behavior in all situations has consequences. It’s time to take personal inventory and get honest about how you justify your behavior.

Take Orange County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh, for example. He worked against fellow Republican Sen. Tom Harman on a bill that would’ve helped curtail the over-concentration of recovery homes in Newport Beach. Is Baugh’s behavior justified because he’s a lobbyist for Sober Living by the Sea and Morningside Recovery and just doing his job?

If there were more than 100 rehab homes in Baugh’s Huntington Beach neighborhood, would he still represent these corporations or would his moral compass change?

We elect Harman, who attempts to solve a problem for his Newport constituency. Then the chairman of the Republican Party does everything in his power to stop him, because that’s his job as a lobbyist.

Are we to believe that Baugh can’t pick and choose clients? Is it really all in a day’s work?

Crack dealers justify their existence using this same logic.

Shouldn’t the party chairman be sensitive to the needs of mostly Republican Newport Beach? As party chairman his influence far exceeds that of the average lobbyist, shouldn’t his moral compass be held to a higher standard?

Seems Baugh pays attention to Newport only when he needs to raise money. Maybe Newport should turn off the financial faucet and see if Baugh’s moral compass corrects itself.

So as we ring in the New Year, make a resolution to cherish those you love, keep moderation in mind and examine your moral compass. Happy New Year!

BARBARA VENEZIA chairs the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment Project Advisory Committee and was the co-creator of the cooking show, “At Home on the Range” with John Crean. You can read past columns at

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