It’s almost the end of 2009, which means it’s officially time to look back, evaluate, suggest changes, and then hope for the best in the next year, which seems to us from the vantage point of mid-December to be a marvelously and deliciously blank slate. I was talking with my friend Anna recently about how business was in 2009, and we both reflected a little bit on the recession and what we did to try to counteract its effects, and we both kind of felt like we could have done more. More what, I’m not exactly sure (at least not on my end) but more something, you know? It’s kind of counter-productive to reflect on something that was largely outside of your control and feel like if you had just done something differently, it might have actually worked to bring the situation inside your control, and things would be different, but it’s tempting to do so, even if just because we all love to wallow in failure every once in a while, just as we love to spring again to our feet, declaring this time things will be different.
I was chatting with someone recently who is in the business of helping people achieve their goals, and he said he always asks people to consider where they’ll be in a year, or two years, or five years, if they keep doing exactly what they’ve always been doing or exactly what they’re doing right now. I think maybe envisioning the goal is the easy part, and he very much has his work cut out for him keeping people accountable when it all comes down to brass tacks. It stands to reason that if things are pretty good right now, progress in some area would only make it better … but we grow quite fond of the devils we know, don’t we? There are reasons, good or bad, why we don’t often change things that need changing. It brings to mind how my brother and I tend to have the same dumb arguments over and over, even though we’re adults now and should know better, and should also know there’s no way at this point we’re ever going to see eye to eye about certain things … but we do it anyway, with astonishing regularity. There’s just something comforting about repeating familiar patterns.
I think that might be why new year’s resolutions appeal so much to us, culturally and on a personal level as well. There’s the instant gratification of swearing things are really going to change (and oh how gratifying that is) paired with the comfort of knowing it’s no big deal if they don’t, which they probably won’t. With that in mind, if you’re looking for a recommendation for how to ring in the new year, I’d suggest the following: watch the ball drop, kiss someone you love, clink your champagne flute against someone else’s, and then promise you’re going to run a marathon or learn to sing opera or convince your husband to let you get a pug or finally figure out how to solve that grilled cheese flipping problem you have … and then spend the next 12 months just plain not following through. While it might not always be great for your bank balance, your fitness level, or your marriage, is indeed very good for the soul.