Submitted by Philip Storry on
It's that time of year - resolutions time.
I'm quite serious. And this isn't an attempt to shirk anything.
(I'm making no resolutions this year because I'm more of a fan of kaizen. So when I needed to start running, I didn't wait - I just started. I'm simply wondering about why we make resolutions at New Year.)
Despite preferring continual improvement, I can see that having a time to take stock of things and set new goals is positive. I just don't see why it should be January 1st.
My first problem is that it seems a very arbitrary point. There may be some psychological attachments of importance for some but that's about the only thing to recommend it.
After all it's just a point on the calendar. And that calendar has been tinkered with so much to try to make it align with the Earth's orbital oddities that our New Year is now almost two weeks after the Winter Solstice, which is both the origin of the New Year and a more logical candidate, as the Winter Solstice is a physically measurable phenomenon which heralds a real change - days growing longer after it.
But having thought about it, I don't think that the Winter Solstice is the best candidate either.
The second problem I have with New Year's Day as a point for reflection and goal setting is its frequency. It is, unrelentingly so, yearly. (The clue is in the name.)
If you're employed in an organisation of any moderate size or larger, you'll probably have Annual Reviews. And if they're anything like mine, half the goals that were set a year ago are then ignored in that review, because "things changed" and "new priorities appeared".
(And you should have been meeting with your boss to cover that and amend the goals every four to six weeks, but that didn't happen because both of you were busy working. On things that had changed, and new priorities that had appeared.)
So I think that yearly is too long. And that brings us back to Solstices, which occur twice yearly.
That's a much nicer schedule. But I don't like using the Solstices, because they mark the longest and shortest days - it's no good planning activities that may rely on conditions outdoors then, because it's either too late or too early.
So the only sensible options, it seems to me, are the Equinoxes.
At an Equinox, you know that the next six months (approximately) are going to be either better indoors or better outdoors. With a Solstice, you're at the peak - if your resolution requires outdoors activity, then you're either at the best or worst time for that RIGHT NOW.
Which is probably not the best time for a resolution.
Whereas with an Equinox, you're at a point of balance. Days will either grow shorter or longer, and you'll find out how the activity works with your schedule for both as you'll experience both lengthening and shortening of days during the next six months.
And the Solstices are also celebrations in themselves - even if not absolutely celebrated these days. But we all take summer holidays, or visit family for Christmas - making the Solstices a busy time at which reflection might not be easy.
And yes, I appreciate that not all resolutions rely upon the weather and the length of day. But many do. And we subconsciously change our behaviour during the longer or shorter days - if people wanted to stay indoors during summer, pubs wouldn't have gardens and terraces. Let's face facts - we are swayed by what it's like outdoors, and that may well affect how easy it is to accomplish your resolutions.
The more I think about it, the more I think that anyone taking up Resolutions should make them Equinoxal. Six months, easier to plan around the big events of the year, a better idea of the weather... They seem ideal.
Which is probably why the idea will never catch on. But I'll try to use it as a review point myself, to help my kaizen along...