The art of resolution making – here’s to accepting our faults in 2016
Apart from being probably the 217th person to wish you a ‘Happy New Year’ today, I’m no doubt the the nth blogger to write a little something about New Year’s resolutions. But I’ll at least have you know that I held out until the very last minute, before the urge to get on that New Year occasion marking boat – band wagon, hot tamale train, or whatever – took hold. That said, I promise that you won’t be getting the usual aspirational rundown from yours truly.
Pragmatism always taking the place of holiday sentimentality in my post-Communist Chinese middle-class family, I find many of the special occasions in the year difficult to relate to – like, why do we eat copious amounts of chocolate in April; and why gift exchanging obligations arise in December. I can’t help but think that they just serve to create many arbitrary obligations and expectations, ones which I rarely meet. However, the New Year is at least one date that I find easy to understand. It’s the idea of a fresh start is universally attractive – to be able to do things differently this time around. Then again, when the New Year resolution is by its nature the most hardcore character-defying goals of all, I wonder if we are just always setting ourselves up for failure?
After many years of trying to perfect the art of resolution making, I’ve come to realise that the root of all the things I wanted to change about myself stem from a simple existential truth: I happen to hate boundaries. I love, more than anything, to take more time than exists, expend less energy than is required, and eat more than is allowed. It’s the freedom of being able to exceed the boundaries, rather than the specific gratification, that seems to motivate me, such that, on a sugar free diet attempt one year, I inexplicably developed an obsession for cake, when I had never had much of a sweet tooth before.
With such a New Year’s resolution impervious personality trait, the conclusion I came to could perhaps be called elegant (or, some might criticise as a cop out!). That is, I simply stopped beating myself up for the most natural aspects of my personality.
The concept of accepting ones faults may at first glance seem inconsistent with the minimalism philosophies I am always talking about. However, these couldn’t be more analogous. The common misconception about minimalism is that it’s about limiting one’s lifestyle, of doing without, or having less of what is pleasurable in life. On the contrary, minimalism is about living a happier life by not (needlessly) complicating it, and recognising what really contributes to happiness, and cutting out the rest. Similarly, trying to become something you are not by making all of the run-of-the-mill New Year’s resolutions is probably just a red herring.
In 2015 I did set myself the usual goals. The performance report on these? 1. To be better at keeping time: This year, I can report that I was on time for at least 50% of appointments. 2. To become more tidy: for this one I would have to leave to the judgement of my OCD boyfriend, who on many occasions threatened to cook my cat if he saw anymore flatlays and blogger paraphernalia left out on the living room floor. 3. To be healthier: At least on a one-month-on-two-months-off basis, I have eaten what the internet says is good for you, and done my 1000 steps.
The above are incredibly important goals for me, but I also understand that working against myself has never helped me achieve them. The reason I’m never on time for my appointments is because I am always trying to get more out of the time I have. The reason I am untidy is because I am always wirlwind-ing from one thing to another. And the reason I am not healthier is because, well, I love food. Understanding this, my strategy for resolution making has shifted somewhat toward the reason for the behaviours I want to change, rather than the behaviour itself.
So in 2016, I’ll be further honing the art of resolution making. I’ll have my next report to you in 12 months time.
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