Because it’s also the end of a decade, I suppose this year’s resolutions should be somewhat grander — more profound — than an ordinary year’s end. This, even though in reality, I agree with this Tweet I just stumbled across:
Is it the end of a decade? Doesn’t feel like it. 2010 just feels like its going to be ten past eight.
But, I have to admit that I really do like the idea of renewal and fresh starts. It’s one reason why I enjoyed teaching, and why I enjoy still working in an academic setting. Every fall feels like another chance to do better. (Right, yes, I know. What is this compulsion to always “do better”? Therapists better than you have never gotten to the root of it, so forget about it.)
So even though I may mock the “New Year’s Resolution” concept, I secretly look forward to a “do over” just ahead. At this point in my life, my “do overs” tend to involve money, health, family, friends, and a whole host of personal improvement activities: write those short stories, learn to paint, take more photographs again, re-learn French, etc., etc. And year after year I begin an honest attempt at these or very similar endeavors, only to have them fade away by about mid-February.
In 2010 I plan to try all of these things again (well, maybe not the French part), but am going at them from another angle. I read something recently (and cannot for the life of me remember where I read it) about focusing on the “why” rather than the “how.” So many of our resolutions tend to be something like “I will start walking every day during my lunch break.” Which is a fine thing to say, but when it’s windy and rainy outside on your lunch hour in March, what’s to motivate you to bundle up and head out there? There’s nothing behind the plan. But if your resolution is to “lose weight to lower my chances of heart disease,” (a why resolution) then the how becomes more flexible — and do-able.
I think the why method can work in all areas of life. After all, “write those short stories” is really a how, isn’t it? I need to look at why I want to do this, and then I will find the time to do it. “Spend more time with family” is a pretty good how, but the why behind it is even stronger. And if you think you might want to get more involved with community activism or politics, I strongly encourage you to think of the why. It couldn’t be more important than it is in these times, really.
I wish you all a Happy New Year. I would love to hear what some of your resolutions are for the coming year.