I did a video for Overpass Apps a few days ago about New Years Resolutions. This is my favourite time of year, and I put a lot of effort into coming up with resolutions for the next year. It’s the 2nd of January, and I’m pleased to say I’m still going strong (that is supposed to be a joke). The coming days, weeks, and months may see some resolutions become victims of my laziness or overindulgence. But for now, I’m carrying them all with me.
A few weeks ago, I was in my storage unit looking for my artificial Christmas tree when I found a notebook which held my resolutions from 2003. 20 years ago. That was humbling. Some things I did, many I didn’t, and others I accomplished for a while and never kept up with.
At the age of 50, I find that my resolutions are no longer unique. They turn up again and again. And many of them are geared towards starting something I used to do or being the way I used to be. In effect, they are not resolutions but reclamations of my former self.
2022 was a year of ups and downs for me. I did many things I’m proud of (like travelling more, spending more time with family, etc.), and many I’m not. Just like anyone else, there are times when I take my eye off the ball and need to refocus.
And sometimes, I have to acknowledge that I’m not the person I used to be. I’ve gained new skills and behaviours that I love, but I also lost some that I used to be proud of. So I must reclaim them. I need to realise when I’m off course with who I want to be.
Most people I have spoken to talk about how ridiculous resolutions are. “You’re going to end up breaking them anyway, so what’s the point?” and “It’s just a day. Why not choose a day next month instead?” It sounds so defeatist to me.
The most significant accomplishments of my life came when I decided to do something out of the ordinary. They came when I decided I didn’t want to be in a boat without oars floating in whichever direction the current pushed me. Despondency came when I took what I was given without questioning it. I have to remind myself sometimes that I don’t have a normal job because I decided I wanted something more and took those risks. I have to remind myself that I have friends all over the world because I decided to do videos every day (another New Years resolution). I have to remind myself that I’m holding the oars of this boat.
In “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl spoke of our need for meaning. While Freud argued that we seek pleasure, Frankl spoke about meaning– which was much different. If there’s one thing we all have now is easy access to pleasure and dopamine (and how many unhappy people are there?). If there is no meaning in your life– even if it’s one you create for yourself– you will never be happy.
I want my life to have meaning. I want to live out the narrative I see for myself. That narrative includes losses as well as wins. It includes falling down and getting back up. It includes doing stupid shit and feeling totally embarrassed, but also things doing I’m really proud of. It involves finding the best people to surround myself with, as well as making mistakes and sometimes choosing wrong. If my life is a day at Disneyland, I want to leave saying I’ve been on all the rides.
So, I believe in resolutions. I believe in goals. I believe in refocusing. I believe in taking back control.
How’s that for a ramble?