Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

I very much like the idea of New Year’s resolutions.  The new calendar year offers a natural break, a time at the end of a year to look back and evaluate, and also to look ahead for the coming year and plan, perhaps with insights gained from reflecting on the past.  I occasionally come across complaints from those who dislike the idea, who think it “artificial,” or that the first day of the year is really “just another day.”  I don’t understand those sorts of arguments.  In this context, I don’t follow the supposed distinction between something being artificial and not.  New Year’s celebrations are of human origin, so in that sense I guess they are artificial or contrived, but do critics expect human institutions to be imposed on us, deterministically, by “nature, the laws of physics or something?  (Hah!)   Or is the first day of January “just another day,” an arbitrary break?  People who think that probably suppose a year could as easily be 142 days, or 442 days, or a day could be 2.4 rotations of the Earth on its axis.  I suppose such people are still trying to follow the ten month calendar from the French revolution, imagining themselves hard boiled realists.  Or more likely, they are simply people who don’t understand the crucial importance to being successful of goal-setting.

Perhaps there’s a problem with how some people approach resolutions.  If one makes a resolution, “I will do X in the coming year,” and then fails to develop a clear plan to accomplish X, never mind begin to execute that plan, then I suppose resolutions do seem a pointless gesture.  To make New Year’s resolutions, one should think carefully about one’s current position and what one wants for the future, consider carefully what it will take to get there, set clearly defined goals, lay out plans for how to achieve them, and then execute the steps of the plan.

In this light, I have a few resolutions for 2017.  These are resolutions that can be framed as specific goals rather than general resolutions.  I have others, but here are a few that I’ll share:

1. Finish my 17th Le Grizz 50 Mile Ultramarathon.  I am en route to 20 finishes, one of my lifetime goals.

2. Summit Granite Peak.  This is the highest point in Montana.  I’ve made the approach to climb it four times, but always been turned back by bad weather or lack of time.  This year it’s a goal.

3. Backpack the length of the Continental Divide Trail in Montana.  Last summer Julie and I met three different people doing the entire CDT from Canada to Mexico.  I have too many other interests to do that now, but I do love the idea of an extended trek though the wilds of the Rockies.

4. Complete my research project on pipeline economics.  I haven’t blogged about this, but I have a very interesting project going and am quite excited about how it is developing.

That’s four.  I have a number of others, but they are not so much for public posting – not that there’s anything sensitive, but things related to reconnecting with friends, various personal improvement steps, and the like don’t make for very interesting posting nor do they lend themselves to being checked off as accomplished.  To me, resolutions should be about things we can do to make ourselves better people, things we can do to make the world better, and things we wish to accomplish simply because we’re passionate about them.  The above four fall into that last category.

I hope everyone reading this has plans for making the coming year a success.  May we all work to make the world a happier, freer, more prosperous, more peaceful place.

Happy New Year!

Photo: 'Unforeseen Contingencies' chief blogger Charles N. Steele at work, putting up New Year's posts and drinking his final espresso of the year.

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