For me, New Year’s Eve has always been about the party. For a long time my family has always held a gathering that included good food and games, and we’re keeping up tradition again. I love games and never really get to play enough, but I also love cheese and Chex mix and little cocktail weiners stuffed with cheddar, and Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and (when you can find it) IBC root beer.
Not so much a fan of making resolutions though.
My problem with resolutions isn’t that I’m an irrepressible cynic. In fact I’m not; I temper cynicism with a healthy amount of hope. A person who’s slipped too far into cynicism is as blind as a boundless optimist. And neither am I averse to the idea of personal growth and steeling one’s heart for a battle of willpower. I like a lot about who I am, but anyone with the notion they’re perfect belongs in a padded cell; and if you can’t readily list at least five things you’d want to change about yourself, you may have a personality disorder. (That should go at the top.)
No, the reason I dislike New Year’s resolutions is that the whole thing is ridiculously artificial. This is why you always hear about resolutions to diet or make better choices that fail before February. Bad habits are difficult to break, and all habits are difficult to begin intentionally. Resolutions fail because they don’t come from within, which is the only way they can ever work; they come at least in part from external pressure all surrounding an arbitrary day of the year.
I have many feelings about the upcoming year, and many thoughts about what I’d like to do differently. The two are entirely separate, and should not be combined as a rule. I know some people will occasionally succeed in a resolution made this way, because having a little push to get you started always helps, but a promise made without a serious plan (and I do mean plan, not intention) to follow it up is an empty one, and even with plans these things have a way of going awry.
The only way I can think of to get any resolution, made at any time, to stick is to be so firm in your desire to change that you treat the entire operation as a bank heist or a construction project or whatever comes to mind that would involve a blueprint. Sit down, make up a game plan, and sketch out preparations for deflecting a barrage of excuses to get you out of it. Make the plan so involved that the desire not to have thrown away all your prep work will be a counter-excuse to keep you on track. That’s just common sense, not any kind of special expertise. I’m no life coach, but I do know excuses. They are a constant headwind, which means to make any progress you’re going to need a countervailing force and at least some level of mental preparation for the task.
If you really want to make a New Year’s resolution, be prepared to spend the night with a notebook, preparing for war. But I’d rather enjoy the party, and go to war with myself on my own timetable. Eat, drink, and be merry, for it will take a series of miracles for 2013 not to suck.