Well it is that time of year again when everyone starts thinking about their lives and analyzing what changes they would like to make. Some consider their diets, others exercise and many pledge to ‘give up smoking’ for the coming year. Yes, it is New Year’s Resolutions time. But why do our thoughts turn to these things so unintentionally at this time of year. When everyone jokes and laughs about how quickly these resolutions are broken, why do we persist in making them? Are we not simply setting ourselves up for nearly immediate failure? Is that really how we want to start a ‘new year’?
This year I find myself wondering how that tradition got started. I then began to try and imagine what people’s resolutions were years and years ago. Were they as superficial as most made today? Or has our society changed so much that we no longer think of the deeper issues and things that REALLY matter? Have the people lost the resolve to keep their resolutions? Or are all resolutions made today just a feeble, halfhearted attempt made purely because people think they are supposed to make some?
Perhaps one day I will have the time to spend researching this tradition properly. I think it would be very interesting to see if there have been any patterns or trends over the years. I suspect there is – after all resolutions are cultural products; not the personal goals we think we are setting. For example, in our “Be Green”, ecological and environmentally focused world of today, I imagine there are people a plenty out there about the resolve to be “better” people by cutting their carbon emissions this year. They will avow to recycling more, wasting less, cut down energy usage and conserve water. So it goes to thinking that in the past there were similar trends that our ‘personal’ resolutions followed which were influenced by the Zeitgeist (spirit of the time).
But why the massive changes? Why do people’s resolutions always focus on the negatives – and big ones at that? Why do we persist in trying to reconstruct our lives in such big ways overnight?! If someone hasn’t exercised in years, how can they possibly expect themselves to plunge right in and keep at it? In every other context, these sorts of changes are expected to take time to occur. We don’t expect to change overnight at any other time of the year and in any other aspect of our life. So why now? Is it all the party drinks we have had that have left us feeling brave enough to take on such challenges? Or perhaps in light of our gluttony over the festive season we feel so incredibly guilty that we feel the need to purge our bodies and souls in a substantial way.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to break away from this enormous, monumental promises we know we cannot sustain? Surely we would all be much better off if we instead focused on ourselves more – not what we are told by society that we should want but what we as individuals actually want. We should all stop concentrating on the negatives and instead turn our attention to the positives.
I propose that this year we should take the time to consider all we have done well over the past year. Focus on the positives and aim to improve on those. Get better at what we are already good at. Surely that is a better view to take, is more realistic and should be easier to achieve. I would also suggest that in the end, it would also be far more beneficial than beginning a new year with broken promises.
So what has gone well for you in 2009? What things have you done well? What achievements have you attained? How could you do those things even better this year? Or if there is no room to improve, how can you maintain them?
This year I have managed to get a few 1st class marks on coursework so I will be looking to maintain that achievement or surpass it in the coming 2 terms (depending on the module). For the 1st part of 2009, we managed our money fairly well so I will be aiming to get that going again and to maintain it. As I have a few more days left in this year, I will be pondering what other areas of my life are going well and how I can build on those to set myself up for a fantastic 2010. So keep a look out here for my full 2010 New Year’s Resolutions list!