New Years resolutions don’t work for me. I am a person who absolutely believes in the power of the mind and mental attitude to affect change. I would never say that anything that is set up to help just doesn’t work for me, even if I thought it, because speaking it solidifies the thought and then some part of my subconscious begins to believe it and then—self-fulfilling prophecy—that thing that may have actually worked for me, can’t.
But in this case, I have to say that New Years resolutions do not work for me. I have to say it so that I’ll find the more effective route, rather then spending another year disappointed that the goals I was so excited about, failed within a month of their inception. And I do get excited about them. New Years resolutions have never failed to excite and empower me temporarily. I love spending New Year’s Day thinking and stewing about the person I want to be and, just for that moment, seeing a manageable way to get there.
It always turns out to be a sugar high though, energy that peters out almost immediately, and I realize I should’ve just gotten some sleep rather than spend time looking for shortcuts. How do you make a plan for change that will last? You want the changes you make to last, but I still have yet to find a way to make my plans to get there last long enough to change or improve even temporarily.
I’m slowly discovering that, in part, it’s a matter of giving priority in daily life to the things that ring the truest, rather than the ones that shout the loudest. This past semester was probably my hardest since I’ve been at college, and it’s because I let the urgency of my academic life overwhelm me and drown out the importance of the things I really wanted to learn. I let my schooling get in the way of my education.
I don’t mean that I should have skipped out on my British Literary History reading to read The Brothers Karamazov instead because I’m more interested in one than the other. I just mean that I let the “gotta get it done, gotta get it done” crowd my thoughts to the point that I barely managed to get anything I was supposed to accomplish done, let alone have time to be inspired or empowered or enriched.
Keeping the screaming banshees of urgency and stress at bay requires an enormous amount of something I have very little of: discipline. I probably shouldn’t solidify such a statement on paper. I don’t want to believe that it is true just because I wrote it down. But I decided to acknowledge this publicly, so that my subconscious won’t be lulled into a false sense of security and the corresponding assumption that becoming what I want won’t absolutely be a fight against my instinct every step of the way.
“One of the great tragedies we witness almost daily is the tragedy of men of high aim and low achievement. Their motives are noble. Their proclaimed ambition is praiseworthy. Their capacity is great. But their discipline is weak. They succumb to indolence. Appetite robs them of will” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign 1979). I’m done with appetite robbing me of will. Enough. I find that my resolutions fail because from my relaxed holiday perch at the starting line of the year, my life is completely free and I have the ability to integrate those goals in to a life that is essentially free of any other responsibilities. Then January 2 hits, and you realize that you actually have demands and deadlines and suddenly what was so crucial to that life of yours that you were sure was on the up and up suddenly becomes a side note to the things you have to get done.
The storms and currents of everyday tasks and responsibilities will always be there, but ample time and opportunity to become the person you want to be may not. I’m done letting the storm rule me. “I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul” and don’t you (subconscious of mine) forget it.