Each year, as the remains of the spent fireworks and broken beer bottles are cleared from the streets, I consider whether it is worth trying to make, and then keep, a New Year Resolution. And each year I come to exactly the same conclusion: No. It’s not worth it simply because the chances of keeping a resolution, or a whole mess of them, is limited.
It’s not that I don’t consider what could be improved and then set myself to do it, nor that there aren’t things which I could, and should, concentrate on in the coming year. It’s more this feeling that I have to do it, that I am compelled to do it, simply because I have resolved to do it. There is a certain stress factor involved, as if I am setting myself a target which should be there anyway, but which needs to be reinforced by a few words. And the words are hollow, as we all know. I do not doubt that there is not a single person out there who has not made a resolution, and then failed to keep it. Perhaps the failure has been on the very same day, perhaps later in the year, but I can guarantee, it is there.
Photo Source: Keith Williamson – Creative Commons
I set myself targets, as does everyone else, within reasonable limits, but would never go so far as to say they are a formal resolution. I am resolved to commit myself to something, but things change over time. I don’t need to force myself to stop smoking, it’s not one of my vices. Surfing certain web sites is also not my thing, so no need to give them up. Drinking too much? Driving too fast? Being rude to other people? All these are things which we can confront and change every single day of the year, each according to our needs and the situation we are in. Being kind to people is something which should be automatic, as with helping others, being polite, working according to what is required. Why stress something which should be a part of our character, a normal part of our every day lives?
If there is one thing I would do it is promise myself to spend less time on the Internet and more time doing other things. Not that I spend all that much time surfing, but I could cut back on it. I could go into offline mode and simply work on my computer without any distractions. I don’t need to promise myself to do it, to give myself a bad feeling each time I spend a little longer on the Internet or dally overlong reading news articles and exploring certain interesting historical, literary or philosophical web sites.
I am resolved not to make a resolution on one day which should carry itself in force for the rest of the year. I am also resolved to continue doing those things which I believe are right, which I need or wish to do, without feeling any force compelling me. Why take the fun out of life by feeling guilt over a personal resolution, one which no one else knows about anyway, when you can enjoy those guilty feelings, knowing that, the rest of the time, you’re good and honest and don’t break the self-imposed rules.
- Viktoria Michaelis.