New Year’s: Resolve or Reflect?

There are two annual events in the collective social conversation that happen every year around this time–the year in review and the new year’s resolution.

I have to admit, I love sifting through the year in review stuff. (And stuff really is the appropriate term here–you can find a yearly review for just about anything–who got together, who broke up, worst dressed, best dressed, babies, scandals, rebounds, best movies, craziest news stories, latest diet crazes, coolest scientific discoveries, or my personal favourite–most heinous fashion crimes.)

I put Googly Eyes on all my Couture Footwear! (photo by

It makes sense that I love these–I’ve always been a looker-backer, a reflector. It’s a Christmas vacation pastime–sitting on my bed listening various top 100 countdowns on the radio stations.

Despite the general frivolity with these lists, they do have some utility. They tend to pluck out the highlights–the good and bad, ups and downs–to put a stamp on the year, define it. The turn of the year is a logical time to reflect. It’s tidy and convenient after the climax of Christmas.

While the Year end reflection looks back, the New Year’s resolution looks forward–how to make the coming year better than the last. It makes sense that we’d also use this time to prepare for the New Year with a resolution to change or improve something.

It’s funny that we haven’t combined these practices though. Our year-end reflecting tends to focus on celebrity gossip or big news events. It’s not personalized the way the Resolution is.

But maybe it should be. It would make sense to reflect on the past year of our own life–not the latest Hollywood train wreck’s–and decide from this what needs to change or be added. Reflect first and then plan ahead. Put some meaning behind that resolution–make it authentic–and maybe the reflection will help provide the needed inspiration to follow through with the resolution.

Perhaps then the New Year’s Reflection-Resolution cycle would be less of a joke and more of an opportunity to make genuine improvements in our lives.

Though it wasn’t a structured self-improvement effort, one year back in middle or high school, I began a sort of memoir I called “A Christmas Memory” that I planned to add to every year on Christmas Day during that empty afternoon when you’re slumping from a big breakfast and the realization that after a morning’s excitement, Christmas is over.

Our Quiet Christmas Evening

It rambled and got very existential and weird. I think the grand plan was forgotten after that first “entry.”

I thought about it this year, though, on our quiet Christmas Day–our only day off since we moved. There would have been a lot to add. Then again, I wouldn’t know where to start. How to reflect on this year? Looking back is still a bit jarring. I’m still processing all of these changes.

The new venture!

I think we humans in general (or maybe just North Americans, in particular?) are uncomfortable with self-reflection. You walk that fine line of becoming a bit cheesy (really, “A Christmas Memory”?), or self-involved, or discovering too keenly your faults.

Resolutions are more readily adopted. We value forward-thinking. Some years I set one, sometimes I don’t. And it’s usually the same sorts of things that I know are good for me but are easy to slip up on. Does that mean I’m not setting good resolutions, or I’m no good at follow through? Or maybe there’s not much I feel the need to change.

This year, however, I could generate a giant resolution list. Resolving to make changes in the daily routine fits right in with moving and making major life changes. I have many wishes for my new city life–hobbies I’d like to take on, habits to form, activities to add into my routine.

I’ll probably just stick with the old favorites though, since both my diary writing and yoga have taken a major hit with the move.

How about you? Are you a resolver? Reflector? Do you take New Year’s resolutions seriously? 

Happy New Year!

7 responses to “New Year’s: Resolve or Reflect?

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  4. I was thinking the exact same thing this new year’s day but like you I felt reviewing the whole year was a major task so I just picked out a few points which would help inform my new year. What was the best point of that year and the worst. And, what was the best/worst relationships and why. This helped me to see where I’d gone wrong and where I’d done things well and to use the same formula for success this year.

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  6. I’ve been thinking a lot about my pesonal growth goals and setting aside time to reflect on who I am and who I want to be…the gaps that I need to address and developing a realistic plan to meet those objectives. But it’s so easy to keep putting it off and to be overwhelmed by my imperfections and how far I perceive myself to be from who I really want to be…sigh.
    May God give us all strength to not give up on continually refining our selves…

    Thought you might enjoy this posting:

    Happy New Year to all.

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