The Problem with New Year's Resolutions

A few days after Christmas, I joked that I was running out of time to give myself false hope in the form of New Year's Resolutions... as I do every year. I read somewhere that over 40% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions every year, but only 8% actually feel that they have successfully achieved them. Today, I'd like to share my Resolutions with you, as well as the problems I usually face in keeping them. 

  1. My number one struggle with keeping resolutions is that they are unrealistic for my schedule. Last year I promised myself I would practice clarinet, classical piano, and jazz piano for an hour every day... But guess what happened when I got sick on January 3? I couldn't practice clarinet. And then guess what happened when school started again? Shocker... I didn't have three hours to devote to practicing every day.
  2. The second biggest reason that my resolutions usually fail is that I make too many of them. A couple years ago, I decided I would try to just make a bucket list for the year instead of particular changes I wanted to make in my life. But is it realistic for me to try to go to the farmer's market AND ride in a hot air balloon AND watch a sunrise AND AND AND...? No.
  3. Another struggle I've always had with resolutions is whether or not they should be quantifiable. "Be nicer" is great, but at the end of the year, how do you measure your success? At the same time, though, "Perform an act of kindness at least once a day" seems a little forced, on top of being the easy way out. "I said good morning to my roommate. Done with being nice for the day..." I don't think so. I'm never quite sure if resolutions should be something that I can reach and say, "Okay, I'm done with that one," or if they should be ongoing changes I'm trying to make. 

All that to say... This year, I'm trying a different approach. First of all, I'm not calling them resolutions. Resolution is derived from the word resolve, as in "I resolve to...", which lends itself quite nicely to the immeasurable goals of "being nicer" or "being healthier." Instead, I have set some goals which will hopefully lead to being nicer, healthier, etc.. Each goal has two parts: what I want to do, and how I want to change because of it.

  1. Every day, I will pray. I want to remember that I am ultimately not in control, and God's presence gives me a reason to make art.
  2. Every day, I will read part of the bible. I want to grow in my understanding of my faith in order to be stronger in what I believe.
  3. Every day, I will journal. I want to learn more about who I am, and how that relates to the world around me. I want to observe my surroundings and think more. I will also write down good memories so I can reflect at the end of the year.
  4. Every week, I will do something creative, whether that's writing music that's not assigned, writing poetry, taking pictures, drawing, doing a blog post, or something else. I want to stop relying on the moments when I feel extremely inspired to get me through; I want to be able to make things even when I don't feel like it.
  5. Every week, I will do a jazz transcription. I miss jazz more than anything, and I want to get back into practice and expand my listening abilities.
  6. Throughout the year, I will jump out of as many airplanes as possible; I will take creative risks, and seize every opportunity that I can to grow and learn. I want to become more confident and less afraid of change. Under this umbrella, I would also like to write more music that is mine, instead of feeling like it's better to write for someone else's approval.

I will do a blog post in a few months to check on my progress, but for now, Happy New Year, and I hope you have a wonderful day :)

Reagan Casteel