Resolved, Unresolved

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English: New Year's Day postcard. Reads: "...

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There are certain times of the year when the whole blogsophere latches on to the same subject. Every September there’s a rash of sentiment about kids growing up and the back-to-school transition. Every November 1st, we’re treated to photos of Halloween costumes. And for a week in January, the topic is New Year’s resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions get a really bad rap sometimes. A surprising number of bloggers this year are talking about how bad they are. Some refuse to set goals because they’re going fail, and they think it’s pointless. One person even suggested that resolutions are a bad idea because they place our focus on our weaknesses instead of our strengths.

But I think we as a culture look at a new year’s resolution in the wrong way. Sometimes they’re not made to be fulfilled. Some goals will never, ever be fully attained…but if you refuse to aspire, you’ll stagnate instead.

I’ve made resolutions for a couple of decades, and generally I’ve kept them…but not always. Sometimes I go into it knowing I won’t live up to them.

The first goal I set, knowing it was unreachable, was this: If I’m going to bother getting my flute out of the case on any given day, I’m going to practice a full four hours. “That one’s made to be broken,” I wrote, “but the pursuit of it will make me a better musician.”

Actually, I didn’t do half bad on that goal–I hit 4 hours of practicing 80-85% of the time that year. (Before you get stuck on that number, bear in mind I was a flute performance major preparing for grad school auditions. For a music major, practice = study.)

The thing is, self-improvement is a process, not an end point. You can lose the weight, after all, but you still have to maintain it. It’s not like you can check it off the list and go back to the way you did things before.

And that’s also why I disagree with the blogger who thinks we shouldn’t focus on or weaknesses. It’s a laudable thing to try to make oneself a better person, even if we stumble and fall along the way. Something resolved left unresolved, after all, still makes me a better person.

**

I need to apologize to the Write On Edge people…when I set out to write the prompt today, it went a different direction than the prompt was meant to…I debated whether I had any business linking up at all. Hope you’ll excuse me. Usually I try to be very careful to follow exactly. πŸ™‚

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

21 thoughts on “Resolved, Unresolved

  1. “self-improvement is a process, not an end point.” Well said. I have made New Year’s resolutions off and on, but one thing I realized is that it’s better for me to make ones I have control over. For instance, instead of “I will get a book deal this year,” I might say “I will complete a book proposal and send it out to at least 12 agents or publishers.”

    • I’ve done that one, too. In high school I resolved to “maybe find someone special.” At the end of that year, disillusioned and depressed, I reminded myself never, ever to resolve something over which I have no control! πŸ™‚

  2. Lance

    I have to be honest, I’m one of those bloggers that finds resolutions posts maudlin. This was difefrent. How you approached this exercise was smart and funny.

    I enjoyed this. Good luck.

  3. I have always looked upon New Year and Lenten resolutions as a way of improving something about myself. They focus on me, my relationships with others, and on my relationship with God. I don’t make many. When I’m dealing with sinful habits, it’s no joke, I must strive to keep the resolution. There are other resolutions that don’t require quite the same level of commitment. One example is my resolution to read certain books this year. I may not get to all of them, but I ought to finish some of them.

    So far I have made two resolutions and one I have completed already. I am giving myself until the end of this month to finish my resolution list.

  4. I tend not to resolve things. That just invites me not to do them. For the goal oriented, resolutions are an excellent plan. For me, it’s more that there are things I WILL do and things I won’t. There are also things that don’t work out like I’d planned. But I have just enough of the oppositional eight year old in me to require different semantics to get me to do stuff. Throw a goal in there, and I’m gone. Make it a mandate? I’m all in favor. Yeah, I’m weird.

    And I hope the Write On Edge folks intend for us to interpret these prompts pretty broadly. Because otherwise, I need to go back to last year and start deleting my own links.

  5. “It’s a laudable thing to try to make oneself a better person, even if we stumble and fall along the way.”
    Hear, hear!

    This post actually reflects my view of much of the Church’s teachings: sure, we can’t actually achieve most of it, most of the time, but I’d still rather have the ideal set out to strive for than to give up by setting pathetically achievable goals.

  6. I like resolutions too. I try to improve something, but I also think about something I want to add to my life. I’ve learned to run, cook, and entertain from my January resolutions.

  7. I like the resolution πŸ™‚ I have very specific, goal-oriented resolutions this year. Also? I think you kept the spirit of the prompt beautifully.

    I loved your POV on this. While I don’t believe it’s important to focus on our weaknesses, per se, I think there’s something to be said for recognizing and working on them.

    • Yes–exactly. I think those who don’t like the negative focus must be concerned about self-image problems, a feeling that you’re never good enough taking over and running your life. And I can see that, if we’re not grounded…but I’d like to have a clear picture of myself and admit that I’m far from perfect, and not wallow in it, but try to pull free of the things that pull me down.

  8. I love your take on this prompt. I’m big on goal setting, because without thinking hard about what I want I tend to stagnate. I don’t have any particular attachment to the New Year time frame for goal setting, other than it’s easy to remember and I always have some downtime then to think about what I would like to accomplish.

    • There’s just something about New Year’s that makes it seem appropriate. I feel that way about Lent, too. Probably it’s inculturated as much as anything, but hey, it works. πŸ™‚

  9. I agree with what you said here. I focus on goals and size up the little things I have to do to achieve them. It’s the little things that get you where you want to be. Most of mine are spiritual in orientation since I’m at a stage in life where that’s a major concern. If I can eliminate one bad habit by replacing the negative behavior with one that is helpful to the goal it’s a major achievement.

  10. I read quite a few blog posts about writing resolutions this year, and one of the best arguments for making goals or resolutions, I thought, talked about how we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. (From: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/how-to-conduct-your-own-annual-review/ )

    Also, in addition, there was a suggestion that you also make a “Say No” list of things you will take off your list to make room for the things you are changing/adding to your goals. (From: http://the99percent.com/tips/7120/Simplify-Your-New-Years-Resolution-Process-Reflect-Select-Remove )

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