Happy New Year. I hope the year is off to a great start, and that you are feeling a boost of mental energy that comes with 365 fresh calendar pages not yet marred by appointments inked, then crossed out and rescheduled, coffee stains and the otherwise tired, tattered pages that my 2019 calendar resembles. I know, some of you are confused with my antique language of pens and paper, but no matter how you keep your calendar, you get the point.
I love the new year. For me, it is a silver lining to winter, and I’m a card-carrying member of the New Year’s resolution fan club. I know there are many who don’t share that enthusiasm with rebuttals like, “Why Jan. 1 and not another day?” Or, “Why would I set myself up for failure?” And to each of these questions, I say, “Why not?” Let me explain.
We are each works in progress, with “perfection” being purely conceptual. Our individual development is driven (or not driven) by a host of variables, notably choice, mental determination, grit and tenacity. No one achieves great things by accident or without great effort, or ultimately without first deciding to make the effort. And that’s what a resolution is. It’s a decision or an intention to do better.
Why Jan. 1? Again, why not? But, I’ll add, it’s true for Jan. 12, too, and Feb. 18, March 3 and so on. It’s any and every day; set intentions to be better.
Concerned that you’re setting yourself up for failure? Rubbish. Recall Samuel Beckett’s words, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
George Clooney is credited with saying, “The only failure is to not try.” I like these failure-friendly phrases. If I resolve to exercise five days a week on average in 2020 but actually fall short of that, I probably would be better off than if I hadn’t made the resolution.
Let’s say I keep it up for four weeks and then get a rotten head cold, my mother moves in, the dog dies and I fall off the wagon. I’d be derailed for a bit, sad as anything, and stressed out. I’d likely forget my ambitious, healthy resolution while I recalibrated, but then – there’s another day. Another opportunity to refresh and re-set my intention, my resolution.
Maybe the problem with New Year’s resolutions is the word “year.” Maybe we should think in terms of new day resolutions, or, in some cases, new hour resolutions. Certain times of the day are harder for me to be the best version of myself than other times. Thus, periodically, when I have the presence of mind, I set an intention to be patient and flexible, or something else beneficial, during those tougher hours. Even if I lose my cool and “fail” at patience and flexibility with all the resulting stress and frustration therewith, the attempt to be better is worthwhile.
Some people choose to be better, some don’t. One thing is certain, no one chooses for us. The absence of conscientious effort will leave us in different places.
Personally, my awareness of where I’d be without mindful effort to work towards being the better versions of myself physically, intellectually and emotionally is enough to keep me working hard most of the time. I fully know the temptation of unlimited TV and Oreos. My intention and resolution today and each day moving forward is to keep moving forward. I’m eager to continually carve a life of dynamic engagement with interesting people making our world better.
Whatever your goals are, and they’re very likely similar to years past, keep chomping away at them. Keep up the effort. There is no finish line. If you fail, fail better. Get up, keep going. It’s a new hour. See you out there.
Heather Hewitt Main, M.Ed., of Main Wellness Works, is a certified Personal Fitness Trainer and has worked as an instructor and presenter on public health education since 1989. She may be reached at email@example.com.