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It's Lowell's Turn: Another year, another resolution

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

Our turn
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As you read this, It’s probably just a few days into the new year. As I write this, it’s just a few days before the beginning of the new year. Wow, 2023! The years just keep on passing by, and they keep going quicker and quicker, it seems.

But this next year is going to be different. This is the year I’m finally going to get my life in order and become the person I really want to be. No more excuses and no turning back. This is the year I will become successful and in control of my life. I’m burning my ships and there’s no going back to the shores of my old life.

Of course, I say that every year. And every year I fall short — or worse yet, fail to even start what I planned to do. The first month or two goes pretty well, but then after that my resolutions seem to be forgotten, or they get mixed up and diluted with all the other things in my life. I expect it’s much the same for everyone else.

So, does that mean we should give up on making New Year’s resolutions, as many people have? Does that mean they’re worthless?

I don’t believe so. There are several good reasons to keep on making resolutions. After all, a resolution is just a decision, and all positive action begins with a decision. The problem is, in order to be effective, a decision has to have impact. A casually made decision is just as quickly forgotten and abandoned.

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That’s one of the reasons why New Year’s resolutions still have value and should not be abandoned. The passing years and the coming new year are a dramatic reminder of the passing of time and how we want the future to be different. The new year is also a constant reminder of our decision and commitment to change.

The high probability that we will fail to achieve our resolution is also a poor reason not to make one. Lots of things in life are hard and difficult to achieve, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try. We may not hit our target, but we will definitely get closer to it than if we didn’t aim at all.

Part of the problem with resolutions is that we aim for perfection, and when we inevitably fail to achieve it, we see ourselves as failures. Instead, we should see ourselves as archers shooting at a target. We might not hit the bull's-eye very often — in fact we might even miss the whole target sometimes — but the more we keep shooting, the more successful we will be.

Of course, there is also some value in self-acceptance and being content with who and where we are. That’s where the tricky balancing act between seeking perfection and being lazy and complacent comes into play. Both extremes are unhealthy and will result in being out of balance. We should keep aiming for the bull's-eye, but be OK with the fact that we won’t hit it every time. The subtle difference is in focusing on improvement instead of focusing on not being good enough.

If you truly want to take a break from setting resolutions, there are a couple of good options. One is the annual review, where you take stock of what worked or didn’t work in the last year and how you might want the new year to be different. The other is to create a not-to-do list. Instead of making endless lists of what you want to do, making a list of things you want to eliminate from your life can help free up time for what you really want to do.

So, my advice to myself and others is to keep making resolutions. Then, focus on one thing at a time, try to do at least a little consistently, and don’t expect perfection.

And remember: The biggest danger is not that you will try and end up failing, but that you will fail to try and be successful at it.

Lowell Anderson
Lowell Anderson

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

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Read more of Lowell's "It's Our Turn" columns
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

Lowell Anderson has been a photographer and writer at the Echo Press since 1998.
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