On January 2nd, 1992, I was hunched over my desk, writing excitedly in my black and white composition book. The first thing I always did when I came to school was look at the chalkboard to see the morning’s writing prompt. It was my favorite thing. I would try to fashion poems or short stories about whatever topic Ms. V. had decided we should expound upon on any given day.
On that day, we were asked to list our New Year’s Resolutions. I had never heard of this before, or at least never cared about it before 1992. After all, I was almost 8 years old, and apparently that meant I had some goals. I wanted to learn how to dribble with my left hand, do a back flip, and read “10 big books.” In case you’re dying to know, I only accomplished two of the three goals that year–I have never been able to do a back flip. Regardless of the outcome, I was hooked to New Year’s Resolutions. Writing them, keeping them, reviewing them, and writing some more–it’s the tradition I look forward to most.
It seems like as time goes on, my beloved New Year’s Resolution tradition is getting some serious flack. I can’t understand the issue. There are plenty of other New Year’s traditions that could get the boot if you ask me. The ball dropping, lucky legume consumption, the kissing at midnight (okay-I’ll keep that one), that beautiful song that I don’t have a clue what it means. All of you resolution haters don’t question the validity of those. Regardless, resolutions are simply outdated and being replaced by positive words and thoughts and vibes. What? NO! No no no no no.
Alright, a quick confession: I can’t sit here and pretend I didn’t try it. I made a solid attempt at the key word thing. It was cool in some ways, to find my “word” and stuff, but it just wasn’t the same. It was hard to stay excited about it long-term. Nothing motivates me more towards achieving something than the clean slate of the New Year.
It’s the clean slate that makes New Year’s so exciting and motivating. The same reason I start diets on Mondays and love erasing my browser history periodically. That clean slate says you can be successful even if you never were before. It’s motivating not having the weight of the past on your back, and New Year’s Day gives us that feeling, even if it only lasts for the day.
So while many people partake in their openly-acceptable-but-still-weird traditions, you’ll find me writing a year-in-review and my painfully old-fashioned New Year Resolutions.
Ok, another confession. Even with the clean slate excitement I just went on and on about, I hardly ever accomplish my yearly goals.
Over the years, I have discovered that accomplishing the resolutions is totally not the point.
The beauty in old-school resolutions is the ability to see where you were. What you desire reveals a lot about where you place your hope. My resolutions revealed the most important things to me. What I thought personal growth looked like at that point in time and what it really looked like is all there in black and white.
Over the last 25 years I have grown, and I can see it through my years of writings. My personal resolutions have shifted from being centered on myself to how I can better serve the people around me. I don’t know if I would have ever seen that growth had I not had my collection of short lists over the years. So for that, I am thankful I made those old-school resolutions. They are not about achievement as much as they are about documenting growth in an authentic and unexpected way.
This New Year, you can go along with the culture that says itemized resolve is outdated and uncool, but I’ll always love my old-school resolutions.