“Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws. Their origin is pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil.” Oscar Wilde
Imagine if we lived in a world where there were holidays didn’t exist and there was no 365 day yearly cycle. Imagine that humans simply lived normal, routine lives that weren’t constantly leading up to celebrating a random saint here, a president there or events of ages long past. And imagine that at the end of every year there wasn’t mass reflection on how seemingly great the previous year was and, more importantly, how great the next one would be. Imagine all the people…
Now open your eyes. In the wake of another almost but not quite epic New Years Eve celebration, the next year has arrived. Does it feel satisfying? Does it feel relaxing because you don’t have to go to work? Or, does it already feel as empty as the previous day? With eyes wide open, you can already tell how the mystery that was 2014 feels. Minus the hangover, 2013 is gone and with it the good, bad and ugly that went with it. Good riddance.
You’ve spent the last month of your life preparing to say good-bye to the year that was. You read so many year-end lists that told you what films you should have watched, what music you should have listened to and what books would have made you smarter. You looked at all of your pictures one last time and you realized that wow, your life rocks. You, like everyone else, quickly forget all the bad as you reflect on the obviously amazing year that was. Well done you!
But, now what? How do you seize the perfect opportunity that is 2014 and become the better you that the new year promised you it would be. How do you fully capture that opportunity that yesterday lacked and the next 365 days of your life will surely bring. Sure you’ll only end up remembering the good but in the here and now, you need to focus on ways to make 2014 the best year that you’ll ever have, future years be damned. The answer, at its most simplistic, is through resolutions.
Resolutions. Resolutions. Resolutions. Perfect little lists of ways you will make your life better. All things are possible if you write them on a list more optimistic and hopeful than any birthday or Christmas present list you’ll ever make. Any flaw that you have, intellectually or physically, will be taken care of if you give enough time to reflect and make a point to address it. In an obvious list of 14, given the year, you can take stock of your life and make honest, and often public, declarations of how you will improve yourself.
To that I say, good luck. It’s common to mock how quickly you’ll deviate from the list and the moment you slip up once, the whole list becomes impossible and it probably isn’t even February yet. But honestly, that is probably okay since the Super Bowl, or if you’re truly strong, Valentine’s Day, would have likely broken a food rule and it’d have been over anyway. New Year’s resolutions are as imperfect as the people who make them but, given our attachment to the cyclical nature of life, we’re not going to stop trying.
And you know what, good for us. Hope is a powerful thing. Hope gives us courage in the face of adversity. Hope gives us strength when we are weak. To have hope is to see the life as opportunity. With hope, however improbable, we can and do continually get back on our feet and try, try again. With that in mind, here are my hopes for 2014.
- Look up. Peel my eyes away from all things digital (iPhone, Macbook, TV) and be present in the moment. Especially in public and while with friends. It is depressing how much time is spent looking down and ignoring, abusing, friendships and life in general.
- Find more time for myself. Maybe that’ll involve a candle and a book or maybe not but finding time to just be, to sit and relax, is a definite hope.
- Create sustainable morning routines. Embrace the freedom that waking up earlier gives and find a routine that helps me structure my day.
- Complete the P90X/Insanity work-out plan. I’ve done each individually before and given my recent lethargy, I need the challenge. And the physical results.
- Run at least two races. Specifically, another 10k and another half-marathon but adding in fun 5Ks needs to become a standard for me.
- Read more books. And not just more, at least 10 books. Setting specific goals ensures the likelihood of completion and 10 is definitely doable.
- Go to bed earlier (and without electronics). Doesn’t have to be much earlier but perhaps it is time to go to bed before midnight and definitely without the inviting the digital world into my place of rest.
- Be prompt. No more blaming the T, the cat or making something up. Respecting the time of others is important, even if they don’t respect yours. Start a good cycle.
- Chew. As in, put down the fork between bites and take the time to chew the food. No that doesn’t mean 16 chomps for each bite like my grandfather but that’d be great. Drinking more water, in general and in between bites, is also worth focusing on.
- Be more tender. As George Saunders wrote in Tenth of December, just be more tender. Imagine the world if we (me!) were purposefully more grace-giving and, gasp, kind.
- No parking tickets. None. Living in Boston is a with a car is a fun game that I’ve lost twice but with a little more effort, and less hope, I can make no tickets happen.
- Travel somewhere new. Doesn’t have to be to a grand place, though that’d be nice, but more to experience someplace new and really, deeply take it in.
- Put friends and family first. I am truly blessed in this department and be it through text, call, Skype or in-person meet-ups, I need to be more open and flexible. Will be.
- Stay curious. Life if full of wonder and I resolve to not be satisfied. To not stop asking why and not stop exploring, learning and questioning everything.