Earth takes 365.256 days to complete its orbit around the sun. During that time, its position in space determines our seasons, which affects our agriculture, which affects our food, which affects our diets, which affects our health, and so on. Earth’s journey through space is so revered, we measure time by the number of orbits we’ve experienced. So far, my high score is 24. I plan on outdoing myself this year.
As humans, we love to count down the moment our planet completes its revolution every single year. We observe this celestial phenomenon and, of course, focus on how it pertains to ourselves. So, what are your resolutions this year? Are you going to eat healthier? Train for a marathon? Maybe finish that novel you’re working on?
This year, I didn’t declare a resolution.
I found myself repeating the same resolutions over the past few years, which means I haven’t resolved as much as I expected. I’m not alone in my yearly shortcomings, but I would rather not be a part of misery’s company. No offense, misery.
To be clear, I’m not giving up on having goals. I can argue that low expectations means less disappointment, but that’s not how I roll. Instead, I’m giving up the idea of having a lofty goal to discuss around New Year’s Day and then forgetting about it. I learned that if I treat my goals as a conversation piece, they might stay that way. Talk is cheap, after all.
I used to think that if I declared my resolution to the world, then I would be held accountable for it. I didn’t want to seem like a liar, especially to myself. But then I saw a brief TED talk by entrepreneur David Shivers that made me think otherwise.
As Mr. Shivers described, I felt a sense of accomplishment when I talked about my goals. I even received praise for my ambition before I had done a single thing. These pats on the back can be addictive and can lull us into a false sense of satisfaction. Instead of actually working towards our goals, we might talk them to death. Then, we can wait for the next year to try again.
Over time, I realized that my friends never reprimanded me for falling short of my goals. I previously thought that someone could keep me in line if couldn’t do it myself. I was wrong. Besides, my friends are too concerned with their own lives to constantly police mine. How selfish of them for thinking about themselves instead of me, right?
When I take a step back, I can see where my resolutions went sour. I treated my goals as a wish list instead of a to-do list. I got used to the idea that I had another day in the year to make up for today’s inaction. I was the only one that held myself accountable, and I forgave myself too easily when I fell short. Ultimately, my habits led me to an “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude. But tomorrow never came. I only have today.
Today, I can make a decision to work towards my goals. I can break down my overly ambitious resolutions into tangible milestones. I can track my progress while I improve myself. I can talk myself out of giving up. I don’t need a new year; I exist in a perfectly fine year to accomplish something.
In the meantime, let’s take time to appreciate Earth’s 584 million mile trek around the sun. Let’s be thankful that our planet is gravitationally tethered to a reliable light source. It’s a good thing that our cosmic setup allows us to measure time by years, or we wouldn’t have goals in the first place.
We can let our accomplishments speak for themselves later.