You know, I’ve never been a believer in new year. Or new year’s resolutions.
The only resolutions I’ve made were when I was younger, and vowed to quit smoking. But come 1st January, I’d be lighting up again. When I did eventually quit, it was in September and without fanfare. I didn’t even know I was going to quit – and that it was going to be the ultimate quit so I never started up again – until after it happened.
There’s nothing new about new year. It’s an excuse to make resolutions. But if those resolutions really meant anything, we’d undertake them now. Something that important couldn’t wait. And even if it wasn’t something important, even if it was something indulgent – e.g. I’m finally going to write my book – then why not start that right now?
I get it. The month and day reset. A new year begins. It’s a chance to start over. The whole year awaits us, filled with potential and boundless opportunities. What better time to start something? What better way to mark the end of what was and usher in what’s meant to be? That’s the logic and glamour of it all. But how real is any of it?
New year is a human construct. If you believe in the divine or the spiritual or even nothing at all, not one of those things set down that we should honour new year and use it as a clean slate for when our lives are going to get better – because that’s what resolutions are meant to do. They’re meant to improve our lives. I certainly don’t know anybody who’s made a resolution to eat more chocolate donuts and get fatter.
And I just want to delineate the difference between resolutions and goals. Resolutions are largely wish-fulfillment, e.g. I vow to exercise more. And we hope to make that happen. Hope. The beauty of a resolution is it’s become accepted that most are just throwaways. We really don’t care if (or when) they fall by the wayside. With a goal, however, you put a plan in place to achieve what you want to do and then work towards it. There’s genuine investment.
New year is just another way we to try compartmentalise our lives, but we actually do this all the time (no pun intended), often without realising it. We break down time into markers, ranging from the smallest measurement to the biggest measurement. I don’t even know what these are. A nanosecond and an eon? I really don’t know. Nor care (if somebody wants to inform me).
We look forward to getting older so avenues can become available to us – driving, jobs, moving out, being able to drink, being able to vote, and all that. But as we get older we dread aging and everything that means – having to work harder to take care of ourselves, physical and mental deterioration, and death. Markers imprison and influence our thinking. We often don’t evolve. We just move through stages that have been set down for us.
You can even break these markers down into smaller categorisations – when we get up, when we get ready, going to school or work, what we do there, when we come home, when we can watch out favourite programs, when we go out, and all that. We look forward to weekends, try to find time to relax or to do our own thing. Then it starts all over again – and sometimes with a sense of dread. Often, time is a framework in which we try to find moments to be anything other than what we’ve become, but the majority (what we are) doesn’t just outweigh the minority (what we want to be) but crushes it.
Some of this we can’t help. We all have bills to pay, we all have jobs to do, we all have households to take care of, we all have responsibilities, etc. We can’t just ignore these things – well, we could, but the outcome’s not going to be constructive. So we have to do our best to keep moving forward through time. Often, though, we don’t realise how far we’ve moved forward until we stop and either think about what we’ve done with our lives; or lament what our lives have become, and what we’ve missed out on.
So it’s new year’s. Yay. But instead of thinking what you’re going to do with your time this new year, think about what you’re going to do for YOU as if you had no time left.