I was out having drinks with a friend last night who explained, “I’ve never been into new year’s resolutions. I mean, you gotta make the changes you gotta make. You don’t need to wait until January to do that.”
I agree with her entirely. In fact, most of my adult life has revolved around the motto, If you don’t like something, change it. Still, each December 31st, I find myself making a new year’s resolution. While we each have our own unique influences, I think there are some pretty solid reasons for holding on to this cultural tradition.
- It’s often a time for reflection.
There’s nothing like spending the holidays with your family to make you re-evaluate your life. Are you where you thought you would be? Or, do you need to make some changes? Are you fabricating answers to keep your mom off your back? Or, are you fabricating answers because you don’t like the honest ones?
Last year I set a new year’s resolution to run a 5k in 2015. It didn’t happen. I’m okay with that. One obvious reason I didn’t reach that goal is because I don’t have any interest in running. I hate it. So, instead, I’ve decided to change my resolution. In 2016, my goal is to hit the gym at least 3x a week for 60 minutes. It’s a similar sentiment but this newly adopted goal allows me to do things that interest me other than running including Yoga, Zumba, and aerobics classes that better suit my interests.
- It provides an opportunity to try again.
There’s something pretty amazing about starting over. When we wipe the slate clean, we can take a fresh look at the situation and make the adjustments we need. What caused this goal to fail? Did we give ourselves enough time to complete the task? Did we bring in the right resources? When we get back up after a failure, it provides an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Through learning, we grow as individuals.
It’s hard to articulate how many times in my adult life I’ve had to start over again. I’ve launched three careers all before the age of 35. I’ve had relationships leave me so broken it was hard to get out of bed in the morning. Still, knowing that I can start over each day, each year, provides some hope. Starting over and trying again has allowed me to build the life I have now. Starting over gave me the opportunity to find my own happiness.
- It provides a deadline.
As adults we say we want to do things, and then life happens. For example, you say you want to visit Europe, but the sticker shock makes you put it off again. Or, you say you want to take up a new hobby, but decide you will have more time next year. Without deadlines, it’s easy to put things off until tomorrow. Without deadlines tomorrow can become a year or even a decade. Putting a time stamp on something can lead you to make it happen.
I wrote my first novel in 2012. It’s now 2015. In January, I made the resolution to publish a novel this year. When I realized the novel I had originally wanted to publish still needed some work, I decided to publish a different one that I felt more confident in. I published To Detroit with Love on December 12, 2015. Now with one book published, I hope to publish the next two in 2016.