Auld Lang Syne
Happy New Year!
(I believe strongly that the salutation applies until at least January 15th. Likewise, the 12+ days of Christmas are obviously still in effect, and my tree is twinkling brightly as I write this.)
I’ve been thinking, as one does when it’s the start of a new year and one has a blog post to write, about the idea of resolution, and more specifically about its root, the word resolve.
According to Google, resolve can mean "the firm determination to do something." This sounds typical of the way we generally think about our New Year’s resolutions, as declamatory statements of goals and accomplishments. I will lose weight. I will quit smoking. I will get out of debt. (Banging your fist on the table for emphasis is optional here.)
As a society, I don’t know that we can earnestly make these types of resolutions anymore. Some statistics show that 92% of promises made January 1 are never kept. The breaking has become at least as popular as the making, if not more so, and an 8% chance of achievement is the opposite of inspirational.
Yet we seem, as a society, to also have this yearning to start the year fresh. It’s an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and create yourself anew. As the year is born, so, in a sense, are we. We want to be better and try harder- or at least try differently. How then do we create resolutions that have both substance and sustainability?
An alternate meaning of resolve offered me an insight. To resolve is to "decide firmly on a course of action." In this definition, resolve is about pointing your compass and setting off on a journey, rather than letting the destination be the sole focus of the trip. Resolve has clarity to it- the course of action you take is specific rather than aimless. Resolve has commitment- to decide firmly is to dedicate yourself to the course of action. Even so, the definition allows room for life and for change within. It’s only where you are headed that is determined, not where you will ultimately end up.
That, I think, must be what the other 364 days are for.