Resolve

re·solve
–verb

1. to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something).
2. to deal with (a question, a matter of uncertainty, etc.) conclusively; settle; solve.
3. to clear away or dispel (doubts, fears, etc.); answer.
4. Music: to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.

–noun

1. firmness of purpose or intent; determination.

All very inspiring, aren’t they? I particularly like the musical definition: “to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.” I like to think about how I could apply this form of resolution to my intents for the new year. What are the dissonances in my life, the clashing harmonies, the hanging melodies that need definitive endings? It’s a poetic and refreshing way to think about something that’s become so cliche – New Year’s Resolutions – and it highlights what I think is the purpose of New Year’s Resolutions; that is, to fix things that we believe are wrong in our lives.

I guess I don’t have to make any resolutions at all, but the “clean slate” mentality is almost too tempting. Who doesn’t long for a fresh start every once in a while, to release ourselves from the burden of unfinished projects or unmet goals by setting new ones, or to give ourselves that extra boost of energy we need to reach the end? I know myself well enough, though, to know that I have to keep things short and achievable when it comes to making lists of goals for 2011. I have a tendency to set myself goals that are either unachievable in the amount of time I allot myself, or I simply try to accomplish too many goals at once. Something is always left undone, and there’s nothing more defeating than a to-do list that’s only half crossed off.

This is the first time I’m actually sitting down to write out a list of resolutions, so I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be committing myself to. I have a few basic goals to start with, and we’ll see what evolves from there. For now, here is my list:

1. Let’s get it out of the way: I want to lose weight. I’ve gained a few pounds since getting married, and it’s not only noticeable on the scale, but I can tell that I look differently than I used to (I’m a little embarrassed by my new driver’s license photo; welcome to adulthood?). I’d love to lose ten pounds, but I’ll start with a goal of five. Lose five pounds by the end of the spring semester. That’s doable, right?

2. In conjunction with #1: I want to exercise more. And if I want to lose weight, I kind of have to. My goal at the start is three times a week, probably starting with 30 minutes of cardio and working my way up to between 45 minutes and an hour. If I can get a good routine going, I may up it to four times a week, but I’m not crossing any fingers at this point.

3. This may sound a little . . . childish? But I want to make my bed every day. Jordan and I both love the look of a nicely made bed. It only takes five minutes to do, but often I’m so lazy or in such a hurry that I just put it off and put it off, until it’s time to go sleep again and there’s no point. I’ve also heard that people who make their bed every day are more successful in other areas of their lives; I have no idea how true this is, but I do know that there is power in small accomplishments – they provide a nice productivity boost to get you back on track when you’re feeling out of it, not to mention the surge of endorphins that are released when you succeed at a task.

4. I want to write more often, outside of academics. I want to cultivate my creative self, maybe even review some of “Imaginative Writing” to brush up on certain concepts or use some of the exercises as jumping-off points. I’m a little afraid of doing this, but one of the definitions up there says that to resolve is to dispel fear, so here we go: I will write – not journal, but write creatively – for at least fifteen minutes a day. I think I can squeeze that in, whether it’s on my lunch break, between classes, when it’s slow at work, or before I go to bed. There are so many wasted minutes in the day, so why not put them to good use?

5. Similar to #4, I want to keep up with piano. Since I dropped my music minor, I haven’t been very disciplined about practicing, and every time I sit down I always play the same old pieces. I want to learn something new and to broaden my musical abilities. Since I doubt I’ll have time for daily practicing once the semester starts, I’m going to start by committing myself to 45 minutes per week. That can be working on pieces, playing scales, or reviewing theory, but it has to be piano-related. I can also break up the time over the week; say, fifteen minutes a day for three days. I think this is doable; I can see my piano time becoming a good study break.

6. Finally, there’s this problem I want to fix in me: I am very bad at keeping in touch with people who far away, be it friends or family members. It’s hard to set a specific goal for “keeping in touch”, so I’m going to leave this one more open-ended. I just want it to be on my mind, because I hate slipping out of communication with friends and family, however easy it may be.

Before I over-commit myself, I’m going to stop there. Lose weight; exercise; make the bed; write daily; practice piano weekly; keep in touch. That’s reasonable, right? The real challenge is going to be managing my personal goals once school starts up again, but another resolution of mine is to not let school define me. My life is more than my schoolwork, and my tendency to glean my value from academic success is another dissonance I hope to resolve with my list.

Good luck with all of your resolutions, and may your new year be blessed!

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