The Year to Come

It’s a New Year. Apart from promising to try not to bugger up the date on cheques and documents by writing “2012” instead of “2013” as I do every year, I have made no other resolutions.

I know I’ve probably mentioned it before, but making New Years resolutions is, to my mind, oftentimes an exercise in setting oneself up for failure. People tend to look at a new year and feel it’s a good time to make a change, which is great — new year, new start and all that. The problem is that people are too grandiose in what they promise, or are promising things that are not achievable without a whole lot of concerted effort. And after going great guns for a few days or weeks, the initial enthusiasm wanes, and they fail.

I’ve learned not to make new years resolutions because I don’t want to fail. Sure, I still look at the new year as a time to make a change, to start new things, whatever, but I have learned that change is made slowly, in small increments. So with that in mind, I try to promise little things, and once they have been achieved, maybe in a week or a month or whatever, I will add something on. Several steps to a larger goal, perhaps.

Or, conversely, I will pledge to do something completely realistic and measurable, but perhaps a bit larger, like my knitting challenges. Last year I said “I will complete 12 projects in 2012”, for example. It’s got a reasonable time frame, it’s measurable, and I am accountable for the progress (in this case, to other group members doing the same challenge). That way, I can celebrate each step towards the goal by posting photos of completed projects, but also have the impetus of a list of things to get done in a reasonable time frame. There’s no cheating. It’s fun and it’s part of a community. And I am accountable to others and myself, which is a good motivator.

The other thing I like to do is to think about what I would like to be or change or see or do, and make a list to work toward. Maybe I’ll get it done this year, and maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just do some research or take a class or do some preliminary work, and maybe what I have on my list won’t get done this year. But for things like that — projects, wishes, whatever — sometimes the deadline isn’t the key but the journey is. Sometimes, the list contains just the glimmer of an idea that begins to take root and grow as the year progresses, if conditions are right — or not, and that is fine. And sometimes, the list helps reprioritize over the course of the year so maybe the painting I wanted to do or reorganizing the basement or whatever can get done, after all.

Whatever my thoughts are for the coming year, they tend to take a few days to work themselves out into some concrete plans. I’ll keep you posted.

Regardless of how I approach it, however, the new year is a good time to take stock and look at what has gone before in the past year and what is potentially to come in the year ahead. I’ve never been a good one for resolving to Make A Big Change In My Life because it’s a new year, but I do like the fact that for a lot of people, it is a time that we tend to throw open the windows and air out our psyches a wee bit, and let in some fresh air, and try to tidy the place up a bit. It’s a rejuvenating time, this change of year. Although we could resolve to make a change on any day of any month of any given year, for whatever reason this day causes a lot of people to take action, to do something, to take the plunge.

I like that. It’s a funny little quirk of human nature that sees so many of us hang our hopes and dreams and promises on this one day. And although it’s often going to end in tears, for a short time at least, there’s so much hopefulness and resolve about the coming year. It’s a very positive thing, in a year of many negatives, that we as humans often mark the new year in this way.

It’s a shiny brand new day to start a year of possibilities. There’s a bit of enchantment in that.