New Year’s Resolutions – Let’s Think About This, Shall We?

by Daniel Brenton on January 1, 2009

in Personal Development

2010 is up there somewhere.
Get out your pitons, boys and girls — the new year is up there somewhere.

Start: New Year’s Resolutions.

Some time ago I gave up on even thinking about such a thing. Partly this was because I have never really been someone for (externally-imposed) structure — a personal quirk I accept at my own peril — and another reason is that it seemed like another example of lemming-like behavior our society seems intent on inflicting against itself.

I, for one, am not a rodent. (If you are, you might as well stop reading this, because I have nothing to say to you, Mickey.)

“Kin You Say ‘Ritual’? … I Knew You Could”

New Year’s Resolutions are just too ritualistic, and because of this they tend to be acts executed with a level of mindlessness and a minimum of commitment.

In fact, the ritual isn’t even structured rationally. We have the initial action, but does our society have ritualized progress reviews? Do we look at each other on March 31, June 30, and September 30 and say to each other in Dana Carvey’s Church Lady voice, “Are we keeping up with our resolutions this quarter? Hmmmmmm?”

(If we actually did this, I would probably resist them even more.)

For a few years I decided to make resolutions that I knew I could keep. For 2008, for example, I resolved to:

  1. Not take any road trips through Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the Gaza strip.
  2. Not to pet any tarantulas.
  3. Not get my wife a snake — any kind of snake — for her birthday … unless I was feeling particularly brave, stupid, or self-destructive.
  4. Not to continue kicking my dog. (No, I’ve never had a dog.)
  5. Not to flip off any police officers or state troopers, as much as I might want to.
  6. Never to watch any part the TV movie Gilligan’s Island and the Harlem Globetrotters ever, ever again.
  7. And finally, I resolved not to tell any jokes about, or even think about Michael or Janet Jackson.

I was, as you might expect, phenomenally successful.

Futility?

Are New Year’s Resolutions exercises in futility? Millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions annually, and the number that succeed with them is probably painfully small.


It seems to me that if we’re really goal oriented people, we already have goals in place that are a lot more important.

Having said that, I will concede that the use of this kind of goal framework is not necessarily futile. If you can really see the Gregorian calendar as your friend and motivator, well, I bow to your self-disciplinary superiority (… that didn’t sound quite right, did it?) For me, I have to disengage from the “pack” mentality for goals to be meaningful. It takes a different kind of animal than this lone wolf to really run with them.

Really, it comes down to each of us and what works for us best.

It seems to me that if we’re really goal oriented people, we already have goals in place that are a lot more important, goals that don’t lend themselves to some kind of annual arc of completion.

The bottom line is that if we really want to make our lives better, I would hope that we wouldn’t wait around for a wall calendar to tell us to do it.

Am I right Mickey?

Copyright © 2009, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.
 
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