New Year’s conversations invariably turn to resolutions. For years, I’ve tried to scoot out of the room, embarrassed to say that I don’t set New Year’s resolutions, largely because I know I’ll beat myself up when I inevitably don’t attain them fully.
My glass-half-empty view isn’t unfounded – researchers estimate that only 55% of resolvers stick with their goals until February. But recently I realized that I may have been missing the point. New Year’s resolutions aren’t entirely about making literal goals. They can be a vehicle for reflection and regrouping, a chance to check in with oneself.
That epiphany came from two directions. Last year, a friend shared that one of his resolutions was to pet more dogs. The idea was to bring a little extra joy to each day. It was a simple, attainable, and energizing goal.
At the Monitor, we also have a sort of New Year’s resolution tradition. Each team, from the science desk to the Middle East desk, is asked to think about a particular idea to be something of a touchstone for the year. The exercise gives us a chance to give sustained attention to consequential issues.
Rather than being strict goals bound to frustrate, these resolutions are more intentions that empower. So in this new year – and new decade – perhaps I’ll actually set personal resolutions. And maybe I’ll pet more dogs, too.