January, 2003

Every new year we face a challenge.  Do we continue to do as we have always done, or do we seek to change in some way that is important to us?  Many of us make resolutions that we may (or may not) uphold, and while resolutions are always made with the best of intentions, the unfortunate fact is that they are broken far more often than they are kept.

Resolutions are interesting, in that rather than making a direct promise to another person, a resolution is a promise to ourselves.  We usually seek to better our personality or modify our lifestyle, which often has a direct or indirect effect on those around us.  Common resolutions include breaking bad habits that we have picked up in the course of our lives, or seeking some way to make ourselves more attractive, healthier, more well-read… in short, making ourselves better people.

Why do we need to do this at the New Year?  Why can’t we just say, “OK, today is my day to stop xyz.”  Or “On Thursday I’ll start zyx.”  What is it about the all-important turn of the calendar that inspires us to make a resolution?  And why are we often reluctant to tell others what our New Year’s resolutions are?

Time is a binding element recognized the world over.  All societies, even if they celebrate their calendars in different ways, recognize the importance of the New Year.  It is a time to put aside differences, to let go of old grievances and partake of a new beginning.  It is the obvious time for change.  And perhaps the reason why we rarely reveal our resolutions to those around us is that we’re simply afraid.  Afraid that we won’t keep our resolutions, and that somehow people will think less of us for not doing so.  Afraid to live with the consequences if we’re successful.  Afraid to change.

Rather than resolving to change in some way, wouldn’t we be better off if we simply resolved not to be afraid?

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