New Year’s Resolutions

I can’t recall the last time I made a New Year’s resolution, and I don’t have one this year, either, though the practice Dave Seah writes about (referenced in  Colleen’s Communicatrix blog post, see below) seems worth doing:

Do not hurry, Do not wait.

As Colleen interprets it:  “It was about not being rushed into things, but taking time to handle them in a sane and rational fashion. It was about procrastination, or the not-doing of it. But further unpacked, it was about a lot of other things: the over-and-over-again nature of changing our most deeply ingrained habits. And having patience with oneself during the process. And needing both the accountability and support of one’s fellow travelers to reach this mythical new land of Doing Things Differently.”


I’ve seen some other posts about resolutions and wanted to share them with you.

** The Communicatrix post in full: December in January: More Room. I especially like her realisation that though MORE ROOM is (perhaps) not the ultimate thing she’s seeking, “it is the thing I’ve repeatedly denied myself.”

** A couple from Leo at Zen Habits:

  • Omit Needless Things isn’t specifically a resolution article but often resolutions involve increasing efficiency, decreasing clutter, and feeling more satisfied, and there are tips here relevant to those goals. The central desire here is that “everything you have counts.”  This applies as well to goals as to concrete items like money and possessions.
  • The Definitive Guide to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions: Mainly, go slow and do what matters to you.

** This post — The Movie ‘Twilight’ Inspires Me to Do A Better Job with Some of My Resolutions — by Gretchen Rubin at her blog, The Happiness Project, is about resolving to love, but more, it speaks to the recognition implicit in most resolutions:

“If I want my life to be a certain way, I must be that way myself.”

** A variety of resolutions, some amusing and some serious, by “the great and good” in the Telegraph. Such as:

“I’ll resolve to cultivate some vices: insist on being indolent and messy. And every morning I’ll repeat what the Chinese sage said: ‘whatever is true, the opposite is truer.’ Oh, and I must stop wearing suede shoes while cooking.” — Stephen Bayley

“To jump out of bed when the alarm rings and not crawl out thirty minutes later, to go to the fridge and not touch the cheese and to get to the cupboard and not touch the chocolate, to love all things like lettuce, chicory, and people. ” — Arlene Phillips

** Making resolutions, at its core,  unconsciously involves a decision about imitation, Whether we resolve to lose weight or get more done or be better parents, we are really just being more intentional about who or what we model ourselves on, who our ‘models of desire’ are — the good parent, the slim or fit person, the accomplished person. The usually implicit idea is that if I can be the good parent or the slim person, I will be happier, wiser, healthy, virtuous; in other words, by acquiring the characteristics I see and desire in others, I will become desirable.

In light of that, a thorough reading of Rene Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightening — from which the following excerpt comes — may help:

“Our aspiration to autonomy has always made us bow down before individuals who may not be worse than we are but who are nonetheless bad models because  we cannot imitate them without falling with them into the trap of rivalries. …

“Once their natural needs are satisfied, humans desire intensely, but they don’t know exactly what they desire. … The essence of desire is to have no essential goal. Truly to desire, we must have recourse to people about us; we have to borrow their desire.

“This borrowing occurs quite often without either the loaner or the borrower being aware of it. It is not only desire that one borrows from those whom one takes for models; it is a mass of behaviors, attitudes, things learned, prejudiced, preferences, etc. “


2 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Thank you for getting that MORE ROOM is about facilitating the journey, not being it. (Apparently, I wasn’t crystal clear in the post.)

    I’ll have to think more about the imitative/aspirational aspect of resolutions. I see that point, but don’t buy it 100% off the bat. Much of shedding bad habits (or pounds) could be construed as aspirational-imitative in its impulses, but I’ve also noted that of late, my goals (such as they are) have more to do with me returning to an unencumbered state I enjoyed as a girl. (Of course, then you wade into this philosophical swamp of me really going back vs. me creating an aspirational new me based on other models, but oh, hell’s knees, it’s Monday and I haven’t the strength.)

    The Rene Girard quote is scarily on, though. That goes right into the “to read” list.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Colleen. It’s a pleasure to hear from you.

    I share similar goals (such as they are) about being unencumbered. What I notice for myself is how I am drawn to ads, magazines, styles, etc., that feature images, designs and ideas that feel clean-lined and somehow ‘freeing’ to me — and that leads me to look at how I identify with being the kind of person to whom clean design appeals and seems ‘cool’ and desirable (how much of my ego is attached to that concept of myself), and also to wonder more about the nature of freedom itself; and I also notice, historically, how there have been cultural swings and urges towards spareness, then towards opulence, towards simplicity, then towards ornateness, and so on, and I wonder what’s going on there in the human (Western?) psyche.

    I also liked the footnotes in your posting, about how “magnificent or luxurious or even comfortable” can be more appealing (and nutritious!) than “sexy”, and your assertion that YOU “get to name both the signposts and the obstacles” on your own path or on the way up your own hill. :-)

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