New year's resolutions are cool.
For about a day.
Some inspiring heroes I hear actually keep them, but for most of us it's a tradition of writing down a series of twelve-month-long promises to oneself, and then genuinely losing the piece of paper. If it's a computer file, then this stage is even easier. Really, who opens a Word document when they already know what it says?
A while back I supposed that one of the hurdles to keeping these decisions at self-improvement is when I make it possible to fail for the whole year on day one. However if a failure has to emerge over a period of time, well, then I get a lot of second chances.
For example, to fail at "Don't eat chocolate" all I really have to do is pop one Malteaser. However, to fail at "Eat less chocolate", I have to keep tabs on how much I'm eating throughout, say, the month of January. Even then, if on January 31st I conclude that I've eaten far too many of the light snacks that melt in your mouth but not in your hand, it still doesn't actually fail me for the year. I can then keep on curbing my appetite and cutting back right up until December 31st. I suppose I commit to the journey, rather than to just the destination.
Apparently, according to this dust-covered clipboard that I've unearthed in my room, 365 days ago someone with my handwriting scrawled a confused side of A4 with the very best of intentions. Was I drunk at new year 2011? I certainly don't remember it. Mind you, there was that out-of-date Frijj drink that Herschel kept on trying to give me for that Christmas…
Anyway, I'm not going to quote everything on the clipboard here - clearly I was brainstorming during a quiet time - but it is interesting to psychoanalyse my younger self, and see if in the past 12 months anything's changed.
For example, that guy had been living back at home for three years, and wasn't really sure if he'd ever return to his other home in New Zealand. Meh, been there, done that.
Oh, all right then…
"Things I would like to do in 2011.
Be more positive! (especially about people)"
I think I've done that. I even liked Doctor Who this year.
"Finish reading Good News Bible."
Oh, that. Well that's absolutely top of my list this year, if I write another one.
"Finish reading CEV Bible."
"Finish reading God's Word Bible."
Oh, SPIN ON!
"Collect stuff from New Zealand."
Ignoring the fact that I still failed at three of the above, I'm pleased to see that I set myself some goals that were actually achievable. For example further down the list we have "Get new passport + visa" and "Get driving licence", which in all three cases were quite an operation while overseas, but ultimately ones that I succeeded at.
Then it moves on to more long-term creative intentions and a few personal ones. However it's interesting to me that my tone increasingly moved away from specific achievements, and onto more gradual self-improvement.
"Let God be God."
"Make fewer decisions because of a system or reason."
"Be brave and confident." (that's a repeated Bible quote)
"Return towards vegetarianism."
"Justify my life to others in my identity in God, rather than measurable results."
"Spend less time on the internet + more time film-making."
(I'm quite pleased to have made Neighbro's)
"Do things out of choice rather than because I have to (e.g. because I said that I would)." (something of a disclaimer?)
"I will pray honestly."
"I will not have set daily prayers." (failed!)
"I will make my own decisions (& mistakes) rather than lazily let my rules make my decisions for me."
"I will become someone who always speaks positively of people."
"Rules and 'laws' are observations, not necessarily forces."
Clearly by this point I'd made the transition from writing resolutions to just plain philosophising.
Buried away in here though is one commitment that I decided to copy across from the preceding year - "I will not be afraid." Big fails there. Don't ask.
Another one that I didn't write down was to simply "do less". Well, maybe I should have commited that to paper too. Or would that have been defeating it?
I think in scrawling all this out there was also some attempt to just get a bit closer to understanding who I am, so that I can better aim to be that person.
"1. Find more opportunities to make people laugh.
2. Speak positively of people.
These seem to be who I am."
Finally, in large letters across the bottom, and underlined twice, I've written what obviously seemed of paramount importance, and I still can't argue with it:
"Make people laugh!
+figure out why."
I don't know if I'll make a list this year. These still seem like a good direction for me to be aiming in.
And anyway, I still haven't finished those three Bibles.