On Resolutions

Ah, New Year’s Day… No other day seems to fill us with such hope for the future. With so much ceremony surrounding the ending of one year and the beginning of a new, it’s natural that we’d take the opportunity to reflect on our lives. Looking back over what we have and haven’t accomplished is what leads us to the New Year’s Resolution. The New Year brings us the perfect opportunity to start again. Now is the time I’ll stop smoking… Now is the time I’ll lose weight. We can start the year assured that we can do it; we can finally accomplish what we’ve been putting off for years. Yet, rare is the phrase that’s so full of hope and optimism, that’s equally derided by so many people, as “New Year’s Resolution”.

The opinions on New Year’s Resolutions seem pretty well divided among people who take them seriously, people who don’t take them seriously yet still make them, and people who sneer at the very idea. Regardless of your opinion on resolutions, there’s no denying that they’ve become a collective joke in our culture. I’ve heard countless cracks about taking up a resolution that’ll last a week, or even a day. So why do we do it? Do we honestly believe we’ll keep these resolutions? The odds appear to be against us… a quick Google search of “broken new year’s resolutions” yields an amazing 6 million hits!

However, obviously the idea of a fresh start appeals to a lot of people. Who doesn’t desire to start over sometimes? Maybe you can’t actually have a do-over, but a resolution gives you a chance to buckle down and seriously work at your flaws. Even with the awareness that resolutions are a big joke, we still make them… with all sincerity. Yet time after time we break them until it becomes such a joke even the mention of a New Year’s Resolution in the right context can get a snicker.

Personally, I’ve had my fair share of broken resolutions. I’ve also been in the sneering camp. For several years, my only resolution would be to have a better year than the previous. A clear cop-out and one that was still broken on occasion (I’m looking at you, 2008). Then last year, I started to become more serious about resolutions and I thought about why they were so hard to keep. How can something that starts with such genuine intentions be so easily broken? Are we not making rational resolutions? Are we just not ready for the resolutions we make?

When I break a resolution, it’s usually because I become distracted. I’ve got (or I think I’ve got) so many things going on, that it just falls by the wayside. If I stop once, it becomes easier to find excuses to keep putting it aside. I decided that for me, failure has much to do with the time-frame. A year is a long time to keep up a resolution. These are usually life-altering changes we’re attempting to make, and we’re trying to dedicate ourselves to an entire year. When you’re sitting in February, looking at December… it can seem a huge undertaking. That’s when I came up with the idea of monthly resolutions.

It makes sense… It seems to be common knowledge that to form a good habit you need to repeat an activity for 30 days. So why not do the same with a resolution? Instead of resolving to eat healthy for a year, try to do it for 30 days. Hopefully by the end of 30 days it becomes a habit, and at that point easier to keep up for the remainder of the year. This brings us to the crux of this post and, more specifically, this entire blog.

I’m going to create 12 resolutions for this year, and I’m going to track my progress (publicly) on this here blog. I’ve dabbled with the concept of a 12 Step New Year a couple times, but never with too much success past the first few months. I’m hoping that having an audience (or even the illusion of an audience) will help pressure me to keep to my resolutions for the entire year. At the beginning of each month I’ll post my new resolution and follow up with (at least) weekly posts on my progress. During the year I’ll create resolutions to address some of my faults, gain new knowledge and skills, and experience life in new ways. The plan currently includes random other postings and musings, but I’ve never tried this before so we’ll see how much success I can muster.

For January I’m tackling keeping track of my finances. About 8 years ago, I created an Excel workbook where I listed all of my daily purchases week-to-week in order to see where I could save some money. At the time I was working a close-to-minimum wage job and every cent was sacred. This lasted for a good half-year until a house fire took out my computer and I lost all my data, but while it lasted it was a very good experience. I discovered all sorts of ways to save money, delay spending, and cut corners. Times have changed and I’m no longer in a position where penny-pinching is necessary, but I’ve lost all connection to where my money goes each month. I’ve considered many times over the years to start keeping track again, but as with so many things this got pushed aside with the ever present excuse of “oh, I’ll get to that later”. Now it’s time to start again.

So I extend an invitation to join me on this journey to see if it’s possible to make a resolution stick. Strangely enough, the whole idea of tracking my resolutions through blog postings is a resolution in itself; I don’t typically have the attention span required for this sort of thing. In any case, to those who make resolutions each year and to those who despise the very thought, I wish you a very happy New Year. May this one be better than the last.

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4 Responses to On Resolutions

  1. jenni says:

    I’ll be following along with your progress. Best of luck!

  2. Annie says:

    Instead of looking at the New Year as a way to make resolutions, I like to see it as a renewal of self. And I have found, in order to grow, I need to live with whatever goal I am willing myself to achieve for at least 30 days. That way it does become more of my lifestyle rather than a chore. And who says, resolutions can’t be modified or built upon later in the year. Every day one is alive should be a journey to resolve to be the best one can be. And instead of of using the words, “I will try…” maybe one should substitute “I can…” It may get better results. Great way to renew your life!!! I know you will achieve those 12 steps you have set.

    • Thanks so much for the encouraging words! You’ve got exactly the perspective I’m talking about… Focused, short-term goals that end up as a part of yourself and your routine. Not a vague ideal to which you hope to adhere. The positive thinking you mention is also a great way to get inspired.

  3. Man, I wish you good luck and I’m glad to see you’re blogging too. Though, I wanted to suggest something, if you don’t mind. If you don’t have a spam comment blocker on your blog, I would recommend it. When I was on using “Blogger” I was attacked about 56 times with Taiwanese spam comments!

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