I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. For many years I made none, for the most part because as a school teacher my year began in September, not January. Now that I am retired (and busier than ever) I find the idea of a reset based on a ball dropping in Times Square to be not just random, but often counterproductive. Reading many bloggers who have publicly owned their resolutions, I’ve tried to figure out why I still resist doing the same.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of “goals,” “intentions” or “aspirations.” They seem more flexible, more forgiving, more positive. But to resolve, sounds so legalistic, as in “I do hereby resolve to (lose weight, be nicer, eat cleaner, sleep better, exercise more, floss, etc. etc.).
The word resolution has a much more important word within it: SOLUTION. Most resolution makers fail to ask the central question: “What is the problem I am trying to solve and what are the barriers I face in solving this problem?” Without this reflection, New Year’s resolutions exist only as a wish list that contains within it the seeds of guilt, remorse and self-criticism. What’s needed is self-reflection that incrementally changes behavior, chipping away at a problem one small action at a time.
Instead of “resolving” anything, I’m going to allow my goals to be fluid. Life has a way of coming at one, and I need to be agile in my response to what might come my way. So instead of resolutions, I’ve marked moments in my planner for self-reflection at six-week intervals, giving myself a chance to try to think about where I am and how I feel about it, what’s going well and what needs a reset. I’ll let you know how it goes.