I Believe in Resolutions

At the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, I tend to become very philosophical, and a little supersitious. That’s when you’ll most likely find me reading the previous month’s Astrology Zone, making lists in my diary, or cutting inspirational photos and phrases out of magazines.

I’m a big believer in the power of intent, and I sincerely believe in making New Year’s resolutions every year. It’s something I’ve been doing for years now, and as I’ve grown older my list of resolutions has become shorter and more realistic. Instead of making a list of ten resolutions with vague instructions like “lose weight” or “write a book,” I’ve whittled it down to five goals that come with concrete ways to achieve them. I also used to publicly declare my resolutions to friends and family. Not anymore. Now I prefer to keep them to myself until I’ve come close to realizing my resolutions.

Oh, Calvin.

I know quite a few people who decry the practice of making New Year’s resolutions. “Why January 1? If you really want to change, do it any other day of the year!” “New Year’s resolutions are stupid. Nobody ever keeps them. The practice is ultimately meaningless.”

I’ve heard it all. But still, I believe. I believe in resolving to be a better person, whether it’s on the first of the year, or your birthday, or the Fourth of July. I believe in setting goals, creating realistic and achievable benchmarks, and the satisfaction that comes in saying “I did that,” when you’ve earned the right to do so. January 1st is the beginning of our calendar year so I think a sense of new beginnings is only to be expected.

This year I’ve made resolutions for my body, my mind, and my spirit. I’ve started working on a vision book (inspired by this Necole Bitchie post), and it’s immensely inspiring to take the time to sit quietly and map out the hopes and dreams I plan to fulfill in the next 12 months. I’ve got some exciting travel plans around the corner and this year is already moving fast. The beginning of the year is a great time to get organized, learn from the mistakes you made and regrets you have from the last year, and to strategize new ways to make your dreams a reality. I’m all about it. Are you?

PS: I recently had a conversation with a family friend who was feeling down about her accomplishments and unsure about the next steps to take in her life. She was stuck in a mental rut of looking down on her own achievements, and feeling competitive. It happens in schools, it happens in the workplace, it happens amongst housewives vying to have the perfect lawn. We beat ourselves up, instead of celebrating our own victories. I quoted Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to her and much to my surprise, she had never heard of it! Bellas, if you haven’t read this poem before, I encourage you to take the time to read it. It speaks such essential truth about the way you can live a happy life, and wasn’t written by a prophet or mystic — just a writer and attorney from Terre Haute, Indiana.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

— Max Ehrmann, 1927

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

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Comments

  1. I also think it’s a good idea to set goals through resolutions. This is my second year referring to my goals as commitments. For some reason, “commitment” works better for me than resolutions. I also find, as I get older, that I make more realistic goals and less of them. They’re better thought out and more specific. Evaluating ones life and deciding to do something that involves self improvement, awareness or evaluation. We have to continue to grow, change and improve… makes total sense to me.

    Great post!

  2. will have to carry these sentiments & words around with me throughout the year…thanks for sharing;) Happy New Year!!

  3. Insightful post and thought provoking.

    Really, resolutions or commitments or promises or whatever you term them, are made by Yourself to Yourself and perhaps to your Maker – as the ability to effect them lies in being physically and mentally able to do so.

  4. Pure inspiration! Happy New Year!

  5. I absolutely agree with you, and I also make goals and plans for the year ahead in January. Thanks for reminding me about Desiderata, I came across it online a few weeks ago and wanted to print it out but forgot. Thinking this is a sign ;)

  6. Jellybean Johnson says:

    I find it ironic that the poem used paraphrased scripture references and a few lines that were later used in a song about astrology. Interesting post though. I think resolutions are doable so long as they are reasonable. A short list…posted where you can see it every morning would be quite helpful don’t ya think?

  7. Sherry Blossom says:

    LOVE this entire idea! Ive always been a book worm and a few months ago missed a vision board party where I was going to put what I wanted together. Now THIS has an even greater appeal….the sections, the flipping of pages…all of that will be symbolic to me…a coming of age of some sorts…thanks for sharing… the poem was awesome…one of my fav poems is “Invictus” those last 2 lines of it are everything to me!!!

  8. Yes, Happy New Year to everyone! So glad you included such a meaningful, powerful poem. It really has inspired me and actually “calmed” me too.

    I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately about my “resolution” or resolve to continue and do more blogging. I love the Afrobella blog. But when I visit it, I feel like a tiny fish in an enormous pond.

    The words in the Desiderata poem help me to feel that my newbie blog, though small, has significance. In the vast blog world we small fish have a voice too. So thank you for sharing your thoughts and words of encouragement. And best to you in the new year!

  9. Thanks for reprinting the Desiderata, it’s so plain and so commonsense, even it’s rhythmic structure is calming.

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