03 January 2004

On the New Year

I am not in a habit of making resolutions for the new year or to reflect on the passing of the old. Somehow, these traditions seem nothing more than distractions from the purpose of human existence, that they achieve the complete opposite of what they intend to do.

Everyday living requires some form of planning ahead to set personal goals, and some form of reviewing to reflect and re-appraise one's position and direction in life. We ask ourselves questions like "Did I set out to do what I promised?", "Did I live well/correctly this year?", "What do I hope, plan towards, for the next?"

My quarrel is with the institutionalising of this natural self-reflexivity into an annual affair. The new year tradition is a caricature and perversion of this human instinct. Most people end up making wildly ambitious resolutions that they never keep, and never bother to keep once they articulate the plan. And on reviewing the previous year, they sadly remark that the previous year's resolutions were not met either. And blithely live on in the new year.

This new year tradition then dulls the impulse to review and plan constantly, consciously, every so often in the days of our lives. The space of one year is too long a wait between self-assessment and reflexivity.

If we made our self reviews/plans much more frequently, we'd end up making more reasonable and realistic goals, and constantly monitor satisfaction with our lives. That, I believe, is more meaningful and useful than the annual tradition.

No comments: