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Resolutions, resolve, and New Years Day

So I know from past Januaries that most Living Freedom readers (at least the most vocal ones) don’t do New Years resolutions. Maybe it’s just one of those “there are two kinds of people in the world things.” But I do do them and find them useful.

The gods of the media seem to be with you non-resolving folks.

You shouldn’t make resolutions because:

You’ll fail to keep them and feel worse about yourself, which will just make meeting your goals that much harder. (Often true for us procrastinating writers.)

You need resolve, not resolutions (a good point, actually)

January 1 is just another day. (And another good point, irreverently made.)

And the New Age/Oprah version … you’re just exactly right as you already are. (Um … yeah, sure.)

Most of the advice is of the “most resolutions fail so why bother?” variety. No doubt the failure rate is huge because resolution makers think too big, get sabotaged by somebody in their life, or focus on the goals without having any meaningful system for reaching them.

All true, all true. It’s common for goals to be either so vague there’s nothing realistically to work on (“I will be happier and more prosperous in 2016”) or so specific they’re doomed to defeat and self-recrimination (“I will lose 25 pounds by 6:00 p.m. on February 28 and I will not gain even one pound back for the rest of the year”).

Nevertheless, I’m all for ’em because I have personally found over the years that resolutions focus my mind — and focus my life on a certain direction. I discovered this years ago when I found an old list of resolutions that I’d made on my birthday (which is really a more sensible time for making them; after all, January 1 really isn’t anything special. It’s not even a solstice or an equinox or a blue moon). I hadn’t achieved most (if any) of the resolutions in the year I made them. And some of them were of the doomed, vague type; I recall that one was “I will become more articulate.” Nevertheless, over time my life had gone in exactly the direction they’d pointed. And I did become more articulate.

This January 1 I find myself (quite unintentionally, I assure you) in the New Age/Oprah position. When it comes to the big things, as a person I’m either good as I am or as good as I’m likely to get. So my goals are small and specific. Mundane, really. But they’re still worth resolving (and approaching with resolve), just to focus the mind.

For instance this year I will:

1. Economize on my monthly expenses in order to

2. Pay off at least 3/4 of the debt I incurred on house fixing, doctors, and car troubles in 2015 and

3. Write 500 words a day, aside from any blogging, emailing, or article writing, at least five days a week.

The first two require a specific plan (being worked on as we speak) but are doable — baring the unforeseen — because I’m highly motivated by the fact that I freakin’ hate debt. (And you dozen+ who donated can know that after tires for Old Blue the rest of your contributions will go toward this good cause.)

Number 3 is scary because I am not a systematic type when it comes to creative work. In the past resolutions like this one have led to exactly the “OMG, I always fail” outcome the anti-resolution people tsk tsk about. Worse, I have not yet figured out any system, discipline, or resolve that will ensure I follow through with this. Maybe this year will be another loser. Who knows? But it’s the direction I want to push in, and failing hasn’t killed me yet. So … onward.

What about you? I know we touch on this most every January. But … resolutions or not? And even if you don’t formally make resolutions, what are some of the things you want to accomplish this year?

Whatever you do, may you have a happy — and FREE — 2016!

—–

Last call …

tip-jar-SMALL





20 Comments

  1. Stryder
    Stryder January 1, 2016 6:32 am

    No resolutions for me, seems the older I get the less these “special”things mean to me. I don’t fault others for doing it though. As for your writing 500 words EVERY day. It can get to be a habit and you can knock it out early in the day just by writing down any dreams you remember. Also, I saw “write 500 words” I didn’t see GOOD words. And the word count on this is 78 words.

  2. Claire
    Claire January 1, 2016 6:41 am

    Stryder — Yes, you caught that: It doesn’t have to be good words. It could be complete gobbledegook. The idea is just to develop the habit. But I like your suggestion of writing down dreams! Where I don’t recall my dreams, I could just make dreams up, even.

  3. Joel
    Joel January 1, 2016 6:50 am

    I never used to do resolutions, and don’t really do them now. In my experience most peoples’ resolutions are vague wishes, mostly diet-related, that only serve to make them feel bad a week later. But you already covered that. These days I’m a little more prone to them, but they’re fairly specific home-related things. And this year’s resolution is that I’ll finally tile the Lair’s floor. That’s about it. Otherwise everything is perfect. Yup. Absolutely perfect.

    Next year’s resolution: I will recover from the broken hip I suffered when the dogs splashed water all over my tile floor.

  4. jed
    jed January 1, 2016 7:00 am

    My resolution should be to get off my butt, literally and figuratively, and do something, anything. I have lots of projects, all piled high there on the back burner, which is stone cold.

  5. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 1, 2016 7:10 am

    I resolve to be the best person I can be, in voluntary association with everyone who will allow it. And I resolve never to be a victim if I can do anything to prevent it.

    I am resolved to live each day on my own terms as much as possible. To consider each opportunity that comes along, and take the best advantage of them I can manage.

    I do write shopping lists and work lists as memory boosters… but don’t feel particularly bound to either one. 🙂 They are self suggestions, after all.

  6. mary in Texas
    mary in Texas January 1, 2016 7:38 am

    Since we are planning to move a long distance from our current home, I can’t make any resolutions except to get rid of as much as I can bear (I have a bad craft habit), help my husband adjust to a new place, and not be a pain in the neck to the family members that we will be close to. That pretty much covers all the important things.

  7. Claire
    Claire January 1, 2016 7:59 am

    These all sound very good — except the one about Joel’s hip! But oh, my, Mary. It sounds as if you’re going to need much patience, luck, and good cheer for your 2016. My best to you.

  8. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal January 1, 2016 8:16 am

    Things are not how I want them to be, but I have no clue how to fix them without making things worse. Hmmm. That’s what I think every New Year.

  9. Claire
    Claire January 1, 2016 8:34 am

    Kent — It sounds as if you’re resigned yourself (if not happily) to the big picture. Maybe you can focus on some small goals? Or some strictly personal goals that lie outside the giant problem area?

  10. capn
    capn January 1, 2016 9:28 am

    I’m with you Claire on the not usually a resolution maker point.

    None-the-less I am going to resolve to continue working on the “Hand-made Hovel” (patent pending) that I started four years ago. With an eye on “drying in” the hovel so that I can work on it even in bad weather. I have three walls framed and the roof trusses made but … daily life and procrastination intrude.

    All the Best to You and all of the Commentariat in 2016.

    Stay safe

  11. Bob
    Bob January 1, 2016 9:29 am

    I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Never could get myself to play the game just because everyone thought I should. Likewise for celebrating most holidays (bah humbug). I did decide to quit smoking one time, but it was on Jan. 21, 1991, and have never smoked since. Can’t really say it was a resolution – I just decided enough was enough. I don’t get the whole New Year’s thing.

  12. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard January 1, 2016 6:02 pm

    I am a man of low ambition. I resolve to drink better beer in 2016.

  13. Laird
    Laird January 1, 2016 6:23 pm

    I was going to resolve to procrastinate less, but never got around to it.

  14. LarryA
    LarryA January 1, 2016 8:39 pm

    Since we are planning to move a long distance…

    Good luck, and I hope it’s not out of Texas. (Long moves are entirely possible without doing so.) We spent the early part of our marriage moving across the country every two to four years, and it was quite a relief to settle down.

    Now we’re going through it vicariously. My daughter and SIL, with my two 5-year-old grandkids, have discovered there’s no realistic way to raise children in Hawaii, and are moving to Georgia. (Several hours on the kid’s first plane ride, then across the country on I-10 in a van, when the kids have never gone more than a couple of hours on a drive.)

    Last time we Skyped she asked if we ever considered just shutting her and her big sister in a closet and leaving.

    The good news is that after the move they’ll be a third as far away, we can drive to Georgia, and there’s CHL reciprocity.

    Anyway, my advice is, whenever you get stressed, take a deep breath. Hyperventilation is a miracle cure.

    My resolution is I’m going to have more patience, starting right now!

  15. Karen
    Karen January 2, 2016 2:11 am

    No resolutions here, but I do have a wish and hope list for 2016. I hope to get finished managing the move related stuff that got put aside last year due to DH’s medical issues.

    I hope that we can get our forest house geared up to put on the market in the spring and I wish it would sell.

    It would be nice to be better organized, but that idea is right up there with wishing on a star or blowing out the birthday candles and making a wish. Like Jim B, I’m a person of low ambition, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the year plays out.

  16. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair January 2, 2016 6:39 am

    As a recovering drug addict (drug and alcohol free since 1983, other than a handful of half glasses of wine on special occasions), I resolve to live one day at a time.

    And I lied. I still eat sugar and drink coffee. Not as bad as cocaine and alcohol, but still strong drugs.

  17. david
    david January 2, 2016 9:47 am

    The only New Year resolution I was ever able to keep was was when I resolved to stop making them because I always dropped off the plan after a few months. But I’m still keeping my resolution to not resolve to anything for the New Year. If ‘resolve’ happens at other times of the year – and it sometimes does – I can go with it, but I can’t seem to ‘resolve on demand’ and stick to anything.

  18. Seibert
    Seibert January 2, 2016 2:47 pm

    I like the idea of resolutions, even though I usually don’t make them myself– does that make sense? But I like them because they’re so essentially optimistic, though for many people they’re the triumph of hope over experience, to lift a phrase.

    I think the resolutions often fail for people because they think things have to be perfect, rather than just better.

    I’m going to take up running again (slowly, slowly) because when it goes well, it makes me feel like I’m about 12 again, especially on the downhills. And hope that my knees acquiesce. They’re inclined to crabbiness.

  19. Seibert
    Seibert January 2, 2016 3:41 pm

    Also, Claire, I appreciated your response to Kent. It’s a good point of view for anyone (like me, now) who’s inclined to fatalism / pessimism. Watch ‘Groundhog Day.’. You might not be able to change the world, but you can change your own mind. Truly.

  20. pigpen51
    pigpen51 January 2, 2016 4:17 pm

    Mamaliberty resolved to refused to be a victim. Might I suggest that to include refuse to be a victim of ourselves? We often are our own worst enemies.
    My wife gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I hope to read some of the better books from my past. Ayn Rand, On the Beach, Animal Farm, Mark Twain, perhaps some of our founding fathers writings.
    Less wasted time and more time spent building my mind. Also, more time spent listening to good music, and perhaps playing music some again as well.
    Mostly trying to improve my inward outlook and spirit, if you will. Changing me, to become the best me I can.

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