Resolutions and Resolve
by Gabriel Cross
Valentine’s Day means a lot of different things to different people, but one thing that most people realize around V Day is that they are, finally and for sure, not keeping their New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore; I never kept them when I did. I decided several years back that if a thing was worth doing it was worth doing any time of year, and tying it to a resolution was one sure fire way to guarantee that it would not get done.
This year, around the 20th of January, I started biking to work again instead of driving. It was not a New Year’s resolution, just something that makes me happy, keeps me healthy, and fits in with my desire to live a green lifestyle. In other words: something worth doing.
Just last week, my wife and I sat down and made a weekly routine. We sketched it out on a big white board to make sure that we covered everything from career development to cleaning house and had flexibility to change anything that was not working. This was not part of a resolution to get organized, be more efficient, keep the house clean to manage our allergies, etc. It was just a long overdue tool that both of us wanted to use to stay on top of things to help us live the way we want to.
Everybody wants to be better, but change is hard and entropy pulls us back to our baseline when we try to improve ourselves. I firmly believe, however, that it is not only possible, but in fact quite manageable to change, and dare I say even improve our habits, behaviors, attitudes, and ideas in order to change our very selves. I have to believe this because I honestly believe that we need to change. Not to be too negative, but I believe that we are currently living an unsustainable lifestyle, and we need to make some important changes in order to ensure the continued prosperity and safety of the human race.
For most of us (and I think by mid-February it is safe to voice this opinion) the New Year’s resolution is not our friend in this endeavor; it is our worst enemy. Taking something worth doing and attaching it to an arbitrary date, especially one with such a high built-in failure rate, is almost like saying that the thing is not worth doing in and of itself. When you make the decision to ride your bike, you find it is vastly more fun than driving, and are likely to keep it up. If, on the other hand, you think of it as a chore that you are going to suffer through for a fixed period of time, then when the time is up you are glad to be done with it.
In other words, what we need to do is decide the way we want to live, identify how we go about living that life, and then (in the words of a company that has markedly improved itself over the past decade or two) “just do it.” And I suppose, by that logic, February 14th is as good a day as any to resolve to change your life for the better. Just think, decide, and do.