This is the time of year when I think about new year’s resolutions. At the end of the first full calendar year of retirement, I have a clearer picture of where I am, where I want to go, and where I want to expend my time and my energy.
The word “resolution” implies constancy in carrying out a course of action. Constancy is critical to success in achieving new year’s resolutions. My new year’s resolutions (goals) come, in part, from reflecting on goals met and unmet at the ending of the old year. As I look forward to the beginning of the new year, I find that some resolutions continue into the new year because of awareness gained in the previous year. New year’s resolutions, however, are not a matter of rolling the previous year’s resolutions into the new year. A resolution can be modified to reflect what I learned from attempting to achieve it. But, new ways of thinking about a resolution are needed for the new year. In this way, resolutions become organic, growing and maturing as they are refined through experience and constancy.
“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language,” wrote T. S. Eliot,[1. Eliot, T. S., “Little Gidding, II,” Four Quartets.] “and next year’s words await another voice.” The words that describe next year’s goal will come from constancy in the pursuit of that goal. What we learn from pursuing a goal is what gives it voice and meaning.
New years resolutions are intimately linked to self-awareness. Making new year’s resolutions, setting goals, refining goals, and evaluating progress toward goal achievement are responses to the dictum: “Know thyself.” News year’s resolutions are about self-exploration, about knowing who we are. Thus, as Eliot tells us,
We shall not cease from exploration.
And the end of all our exploring
Shall be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.