I don't do New Year's Resolutions. I don't do New Years, and I don't do Resolutions. It's two different things, really:
I am totally willing to go to a party on New Years. I like parties. I like dancing. I like drinking. I like making noise at midnight because I like making noise. But New Year's doesn't hold any meaning for me besides a night that people have parties and make noise at midnight. If everyone in Iowa City started celebrating Canada Day then I would go to Canada Day parties. (No offense, Canada, but I don't really care about you.) There are days that mark the beginnings and endings of things—the first day it feels like a new season, the first day of vacation or the first day of school—those are days that prompt an evaluation of my life, those are days that something changes. Even my birthday, which might be considered an equally artificial marker, feels like a more significant change than the switch from December 31 to January 1st. There is nothing that I want to do or not do on January 1st that I wouldn't want to do or not do on December 31st. Except, perhaps, sleep off a hangover.
A resolution is a promise that I make to myself. And I don't believe in promises, not the way that people seem to use them. I think that a decision is either the best decision one can make given known information, or it isn't. If it is the best decision, then it should be made regardless of promises given or not given. If a promised action is the right action then the promise doesn't make a difference. It only makes a difference when that promised action isn't the best action, because then the promise only serves to enforce the wrong action. We make promises based on our belief in future events. Sometimes we're wrong. Not every goal is attainable, and sometimes we can be harmed by attempting unattainable goals.
It's not that I don't believe in goals. I believe in ever-evolving goals that reflect the best we know at any given time. There are things that I want, that I strive for. Sometimes I reach them. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I decide that I'm better off if I don't try for that goal. And I never decide if a goal is helping or hurting me, or if a decision is a good or bad one, because of a promise I made.
(written as a guest post at www.shortgirlphoto.blogspot.com)