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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Resolution revolution: A new way of thinking about the new year

Published: January 26, 2012
Section: Opinions

The last 10 seconds of New Year’s Eve are no joke for me.

As I hear the crowd excitedly counting down, I think hard about the mistakes I made during the year, about the things that I could have changed and about the things I wish I had done differently. During these 10 seconds I usually come up with 12 resolutions—one for each month of the year. Unfortunately, every year the same thing happens: I dream big, and by big I mean way too big. I usually come up with ridiculous resolutions and then get really upset when I realize that I can’t live up to them.

Now that January is almost over and I have already failed to accomplish the first resolution on my list, I’m realizing that, while the new year should be a time to make changes, these don’t have to be drastic.

In fact, there shouldn’t be too many changes. Having a few small resolutions is more than enough.

I also realized that the last 10 seconds of the year are not the only opportunity to consider making changes; resolutions can be made at any moment. If we stop and think about it for a second, most of us spend more time thinking about our resolutions than actually fulfilling them. Some people I know even decorate their lists—with sparkly hearts and all—only to throw them away later. These are the kinds of people who know exactly what they should change and how they should do it, yet, no matter their level of motivation or introspection, these changes never seem to happen. On the other hand, I also know people who say they don’t believe in the power of the new year or in resolutions; for them, there’s nothing special to which to look forward.

While I do not agree with the people that devote the end of the year to making resolutions, I also do not agree with people that expect nothing. I mean, we celebrate the new year for a reason.

In my opinion, the new year shouldn’t be a time to make a million resolutions (even though sometimes that is exactly what I do), but it also shouldn’t be meaningless. New Year’s Eve is all about celebrating not only the beginning of a new year filled with hopes and opportunities, but also the end to a year that—even if it wasn’t good—is at least over. As a matter of fact, the more difficult the year, the more I learn about myself and the better the following year seems to be. As they say, it has to get worse before it gets better, and New Year’s Eve is exactly the time to appreciate how much we have learned and how we can be better in the future.

As much as I believe that some years are meant to be good and others are mean to be bad, I also believe that the new year shouldn’t really be about hoping: It should be about doing. It shouldn’t be about believing in destiny and trusting that everything is going to be okay, but about making sure that everything does turn out OK.

The new year shouldn’t be about having faith in a list of resolutions; it should be about having faith in ourselves. I believe that we each make our own destiny and although I really think that sometimes there are things that are meant to happen, this doesn’t mean that we each don’t have the power to change our future. Every year is a new chance to be different, to be better, brighter, nicer; to go bravely after the things we want; to honor the past but welcome the future; to rise when we fall and to keep in mind that we can always change, whether it’s New Year’s Eve or not.