I sympathize with people who think that New Year’s resolutions are dumb, because yes, it’s an arbitrary time/reason to decide to improve yourself. (I also sympathize with the same logic applied to invented holidays–and let’s face it, they’re all invented. Why should you specifically appreciate your significant other on February 14th? Why should you give loved ones gifts on December 25th? And so on.)
But here’s an argument in favor of it: sometimes there’s value in being prompted at a specific time. You don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because the other days don’t matter, but because appreciating your significant other by carving out time specifically for that is often lost in the day-to-day. Being prompted to create some goals and frameworks for improving quality of life is useful because it’s hard to step back, evaluate, and plan, when we’re insanely busy and stressed.
One of my resolutions is to get in the habit of writing more frequently, and part of that is learning to write shorter. When I first started blogging in 2000, this was not a problem. A paragraph-long post felt like enough, if that was what was warranted. Now I feel like I have to write a complete 1500 word essay every time I sit down to write something, and it’s not good for my writing, or my thinking (which I often do via writing.) So one of my resolutions: blog every day on the weekdays, but no posts over 300 words for the first 30 days. (In case you’re wondering, this is 256.)