On New Year’s Celebrations and Resolutions.

I’m sorry that this is about a week late, but let me tell you why I hate New Year’s.

It is one of the most hyped-up holidays with the least amount of follow-through. On January 31st, millions and millions of people across the world get together and wait around to count down until midnight in their respective time zones. The kids get a kick out of being allowed to stay up late, the adolescents and young adults enjoy in their favorite binge-drinking and hooking-up holiday, and the more mature crowds sip their champagne and discuss what changes they will implement in their lives in the year to come. While I normally try and avoid stereotypes, from my observations in the last 21 years of my life, this is what tends to occur. In the midst of all this celebration, people convince themselves that the year to come will be the best yet, because the year that is coming to an end will be easy to trump. But in the moment they don’t realize that 365 days before, they were saying the same thing, and 365 more days later, they will repeat themselves yet again. There are other types—those who appreciate the year they just had, and hope that the next year will bring similar blessings. These are better. But I still can’t help but wonder why, simply because the calendar switched from December to January, they might think that everything could change.

Furthermore, as all these New Year’s celebrators amp themselves up to be better individuals for good, starting tomorrow, they unknowingly, in my opinion, demonstrate themselves to be hypocrites. Next year will be better, one might say, but for now, I shall drink until I black out and wake up in the new year unaware of what happened in the last moments before midnight. Next year I will eat healthier and exercise, another might think, while downing the last pound of Christmas chocolate all at once—so that it won’t be around tomorrow, of course—and ignoring the likelihood that by January 9th, the exercise regiment will dwindle away. Next year all of this good stuff will happen, we just know it. But then in the morning we will read at least five news articles that pretend in their headlines to contain the scoop on what big changes we can expect this year, while actually proving by the end of the article that, though the economy, the politics, the environment, the entertainment world, etc., may fluctuate a bit, there is little telling of any huge alterations.

I realize that this is quite a pessimistic view and negative point to start this blog off with. Be reassured that though I may seem to find myself far above the hype over the new year, I fall into its trap, too. The one thing that I can understand about people loving the idea of January 1st is that it provides a tangible clean slate to work off of. Though many people, as I’ve already depicted, fall off the wagon and return to the old slate of the past year, others are able to maintain their dedication to self-improvement. We all look up to these, and perpetuate our cycle of approaching each new year with the same enthusiasm.

I find myself with this similar feeling of a chance for renewal multiple times a year, thanks to being in school. At the beginning of each semester I think to myself: this time I will be more organized, I will not procrastinate, I will work my hardest in every class, I will earn more money at work, I will have fun on my weekends, I will keep up with my creative writing on the side. At the beginning of the summer, I compose lists of all that I want to accomplish with my time off. It is a good way to approach marked new time periods in your life, indeed. But we need to remember to distinguish the achievable goals and the higher wishes, and how much effort is actually reasonable to dedicate to each. We need to remember that though our goals define us in some ways, so does our ability to actually achieve them. I’ve learned to work at setting goals that I know I could achieve, but understanding that realistically, I should not expect to fulfill more than a handful in a short amount of time (like a semester, or a summer, or even a year). I’ve learned also that goals like “be a better friend,” or “do something new,” while worthy, are impractical if you don’t follow them up with more specificity. For example, if you want to be able to measure your broad goal of being a better friend, add in things like telling your friends you love them at least once a week, keeping in personal contact with your friends regularly, say at least once a month, and making the effort to see your friends as soon as possible.

On that note, I’ll finish off with my own list of goals for 2012. Yes, I make them too. So maybe I’m the ultimate hypocrite? I’ve considered this multiple times before.

  1. Graduate in December.
  2. Intern at Red Hen.
  3. Work all summer.
  4. Have $4,000 in savings by graduation.
  5. Work out twice a week or more.
  6. Have the best Dance Production yet.
  7. Live off campus my last semester.
  8. Obtain a DSLR camera (Sony or Nikon) and know how to USE it.
  9. Submit as many of my stories and poems as possible, to at least fifteen publications each.
  10. Enter the writing contest at school in February.
  11. See some of my writing published.
  12. Write and finish four (or more) stories.
  13. Keep up brainstorm for ideas on a novella.
  14. Submit my screenplay from class to several agencies.
  15. Read all of my new books.
  16. See Madison and Amy in Spain.
  17. Go to New York City this summer with Ryan.
  18. Go to Harry Potter World with my best friends.
  19. See my brothers and their families.
  20. Go to Las Vegas.
  21. Go camping in Jemez again.
  22. Find somewhere to dance at home.
  23. Keep up with this blog, and my journal.
  24. Give friends Christmas gifts (or at least cards) this year.

Some of the topics on this list are easily attainable. Some I realize I will not likely achieve or cannot control whether I achieve, but I find are necessary to keep on the list as reminders of some of my higher goals. Others are goals that aren’t so easy, but also not impossible; I could attain them with bona fide effort.

Notice, though, that all of mine are goals to do things. I don’t bother with “resolutions” to not do things (I also hate the word “resolution,” and as you may have already noticed, stick to the word “goal” because it feels less confining, having more of a liberating purpose). Accomplishment comes from doing. Regret comes from not doing at all.

I hope this entry inspires many to accomplish, and at the same time to do themselves a favor and not build up such high expectations for the holiday of New Year’s. People should allow themselves to set goals at any point, and not limit themselves to a particular day on the calendar to begin achieving their aspirations.