Why Your New Years Resolution Won’t Work

While listening to the radio during winter break back in Hong Kong, I took note of an interesting statement discussing the New Year. “Our new year resolutions are often unaccomplished goals that we chose to procrastinate on.”

While listening to the radio during winter break back in Hong Kong, I took note of an interesting statement discussing the New Year. “Our new year resolutions are often unaccomplished goals that we chose to procrastinate on.” The statement sounded odd to me. New Years is often framed as a time of self evaluation and change, but I’d never thought of it as an excuse. Upon further reflection, I realized it was at least true for my life. The truth is that the changing of the calendar, more than anything, is an arbitrary way for us to categorize our lives into segments. In turn, we pick the beginning of this new segment in our lives as a time to bring change.

When I reflect on the previous year, I changed the most not from conscious spurts of self improvement, but through gradual accumulation of experiences affecting me subconsciously. Rather than a dramatic resolution written on paper, the decision that changed me the most last year was the choice to do Lifetime Farming.

As a II Former new to the School last fall, I was in a mire of new experiences, trying out every new extracurricular. However, I was still undecided about which sport to take on for the fall. Since I grew up in Hong Kong, a metropolitan of high-rise skyscrapers, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to venture into the world of agriculture.

Since joining, I’ve had the opportunity to drive a tractor, extract honey from a honeycomb, build shelters for sheep, feed compost to pigs, set up a field for crops, pick peppers and tomatoes, and more. I learned how and where the food I had every day at Irwin Dining Hall came from, and this made me cherish my food as never before. Although I was the only II Former working at the Big Red Farm, I enjoyed it a lot and was able to share photos and memories with my friends and relatives both here and back at home.

Each new experience didn’t change me in the way, say, a sudden commitment to go the gym would. There was no explicit end goal for the person I wanted to become as a result of farming. However, these moments gradually accumulated, and I sparked a new-found interest in sustainability, working with the Sustainability Council to spearhead brand new recycling and composting initiatives for the community.

We often think that change for ourselves has to come in a dramatic sweep. Maybe a sudden resolution to go to the gym more often or read a book a day. However, we should view changing ourselves as more of a natural and gradual process. In farming, I didn’t anticipate the change I was going to make and was merely open to new experiences. Over the course of the Fall Term, I gradually changed. In contrast to new year resolutions that are often deliberate and forced, it is apparent that the change you accumulate gradually over a year is more significant than a sudden resolution.

Reflecting on 2019, my biggest change reflecting was not a resolution I made, but simply a new experience I chanced upon as a result of new opportunities. I would have missed out on so much if I had not made the decision to take up Lifetime Farming. Upon reflection, I’ve realized that this principle of taking advantage of opportunities applies to all other aspects of life. Stepping out of my comfort zone in and outside of class rewarded me with many unprecedented experiences.

I don’t have anything in mind for my New Year resolution—only a readiness to be open to change. I see the New Year as merely an arbitrary way we categorize our lives, as it alone cannot inspire us to create changes. Ultimately, it is up to us—our constant willingness to take advantage of opportunities and experience new things—to bring genuine improvements to our lives. With this passion to explore in mind, the year 2020 and beyond will be much more rewarding.

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