There’s something about the change of one (or perhaps two, & once in my lifetime, 4) digits of the calendar that urges most of us to make promises to ourselves. They tend to be well intentioned promises – lose weight, eat better, love more, live more, do something crazy ad infinitum.
I’ve done this for as many years as I can consciously remember. It seems like a peer-pressure thing – I’d get asked what my new year resolutions were. The person doing the questioning would usually have a dozen of his/her own that they wanted to share. Not to be outdone, I’d make up a bunch of my own, with about as much hope of achievement as a wisp of smoke in a hurricane.
As I grow older though, I find myself making tweaks to my ongoing plans & systems. As Scott Adams says, a system is better than a goal – it’s more likely that I will achieve what motivated me to set the system in place in the first place.
My routine changed in the last two weeks of 2015 – I switched off my computers for most of the waking day, focusing on doing physical things. Helping my wife with her garden. Repairing & restoring stuff. Reading a book. Talking to the kids. Playing games. Reading an occasional blog on my phone. Restricting the intake of food & drink during a season devoted to excesses. Sleeping longer (& not wearing a fitbit to monitor it). Noticing my thoughts. Writing longer entries in my journal. Reading old journal entries. Rearranging. Cleaning. Discarding. Rearranging. Redecorating. Reliving old memories.
And in the midst of all this, I remembered a decision I made a while ago to stop posting to this blog. I had forced myself to post every day, & did so meticulously for a year. Then ennui set in. It seemed like a pointless exercise. So I stopped. The posts were links to stuff I read & found interesting. But there wasn’t much I had written.
Writing is cathartic for me. I write in my journals, or on blank sheets of paper. I use a fountain pen. There’s an element of control. My arm moves. The ink flows out. Words are formed. Ideas come to life. Or die. Resolutions happen at that moment for me. The act of writing things down.
Whether you’ve made (& broken!) your New Year’s resolutions, or whether you’ve not made any, Maria Popova shares a collection of how Jonathon Swift, Susan Sontag & Marilyn Monroe approached their New Year resolutions. Fascinating read.