Happy New Year! You’ve lived another 365 days! Right about now you’re probably planning out your New Year’s resolutions for 2017. For those that may not know what this, it’s when people resolve to change something about their lives in the coming year by exercising more, being nicer, volunteering, etc. (For more examples and a brief history of the origins of this tradition, read the 100% always reliable Wikipedia page.) In previous years, I’ve made such goals as ‘get better grades’ and ‘read more.’ I would never actually work any harder to achieve these goals than I had in the past, but it made me feel like I was working towards something when I looked at my list of desired accomplishments.
Let’s face it: we all do this to an extent. One of the most common resolutions is to get fit or exercise more. Maybe you start working out on January 2nd and you feel great buying workout clothes and going to the gym and eating celery at every meal. But then the first Saturday of the year comes, maybe on January 6th, maybe on January 3rd. And suddenly it’s just too cold outside to go running and your bed is so warm and comfy and no one could possibly go running in the rain when their bed is so inviting could they? So you say ‘just this once, I’ll take a break,’ and eleven months later you’re back where you started: no exercise routine, making goals to do better next year, feeling guilty that you didn’t achieve last year’s goals. But here’s the thing, and you might want to brace yourself for it because it may come as a shocker, January 1st is no different than December 31st!! The sun rises and sets like every other day in the year. There is nothing unique about January 1st. WE give meaning to it, saying, ‘This is my year. This year will be different.” Will it? Will it really?
I’m not planning on making any ‘New Year’s resolutions’ for 2017. Not because I think I’m perfect the way I am and there’s nothing I think I could do to improve myself. I’d like to volunteer in my community more and I’d like to exercise more and I’d like to have a diet that contains something other than goldfish crackers and cupcakes. But I find that making goals with a 365-day time constraint just makes me anxious. Instead of having ‘New Year’s resolutions,’ I think we should simply have ‘Life Resolutions.’ We all have things we’d like to do and things we’d like to work on throughout our life. Instead of making the same resolution every year and not 100% achieving it by the end of that year, or even the next, I’d rather set a goal for my life. When I’m lying on my deathbed, I’m not going to be thinking about the New Year’s resolutions I did or didn’t accomplish. I’m going to look back at my life and wonder if I was a good person, if people liked me, if I showed love and compassion, if I valued time with friends and family above money. And I guarantee you that if someone offers me a cupcake before I breathe my last, I will not tell them, ‘No thanks, I’m on a diet.’ I will devour that cupcake, even if it kills me a few minutes too soon, because I want to take chances and I never want to take advantage of the limited time I have. It’s also rude to decline cupcakes…
‘What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows.’ -Ralph Marston