Why make resolutions?

I know people have mixed reactions toward New Year's Resolutions. Life coach gurus will tell you that the time to make a change in your life is not after some arbitrary date on the calender, but NOW. Resolve to do what you want to do starting TODAY.

Fair enough, but humans are culturally entrained to live by symbols and ceremonies. We crave communally recognized milestones to make the passage of time. Even though holidays, anniversaries and other significant dates are arbitrary, every society on Earth lives and governs itself by them.

Whether fixed (Christmas Day, the date on which you were born/married/ordained/etc.), movable (the first full moon of spring, the last home game of the season), or capricious (the day of your first kiss, the day she left, the night you picked up the gun and then put it down again), these arbitrary dividers between before and after help us make sense of our lives.

Or at least keep the memories in order.

So, take the time at the turning of the year to look back AND to look forward. Look back, because introspection in support of an examined life is rarely wasted effort. Look forward, because deciding what kind of a future you want of the live in helps you to make specific plans and preparations to getting it.

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