There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a fresh start. The anticipation of a new opportunity, the chance to try something different for the first time, or to give something a second shot (or third or fourth shot, but this time for reals, of course); I find these prospects invigorating. These are perhaps the main reason I am so fond of New Years’ Eve and the resolutions we typically make for the coming year.
Nothing really is different between December 31st and January 1st, when you think of it. There is no cosmic resetting of the tables, no shaking of a universal Etch-a-Sketch. But for some reason, the sense that we begin a new year fills us with hope and anticipation for the possibilities that may unfold. Oh, if I could only harness that feeling every Sunday night, right before the workweek begins. But nobody makes Next Week’s Resolutions. It just doesn’t work that way. Still, I love making resolutions. I make them every single year, and I break them every year, too.
Last year, for instance, I resolved to read more. I love reading, or at least I love telling people I love reading. So I decided to read a book a week. It was a formidable challenge, but what is the point of resolutions if not to challenge ourselves? I failed yet again, and rather miserably. But even in my failure I succeeded because although I did not read fifty-two books last year, I still read twenty-eight. And that’s more than I’ve read in the past five years.
One of my guiding principles in life comes from a quote from the film “Death to Smoochy.” Smoochy, a hopeless optimist, says, “We can’t change the world, but we can make a dent.” That’s how I feel about New Year’s resolutions. We set our goals high because we know (consciously or subconsciously) that although we are not likely to meet them, in trying we will come closer. In the end, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t read all the books I set out to read. I still read quite a few and I feel better for having attempted it. It was always about reading more, not about a number.
This year I have made another big resolution. I have resolved to write a weekly entry capturing my thoughts on any given matter. It is inspired by the Essays of Sir Francis Bacon and by a desire to live more intentionally and to better understand my own views. Intentionality is another characteristic of resolutions, by the way. Whether we resolve to lose weight or to be more present, these goals we set for ourselves are a reflection of what we find to be meaningful in life, what we want to do more of or less of. Resolutions help us work toward realizing our aspirations of a better, more fulfilled self. These are all good things, as far as I’m concerned. This is what I think about resolutions, for the time being.