Well, it’s the beginning of a new year and tradition dictates that every year should begin with a resolution. The idea being that something in our behavior made the past year such an utterly miserable experience that we must do something to correct that behavior and savor what little time we have on this planet.
Okay, I admit it. I’m being cynical. It’s just that the notion of a premeditated decision coinciding with an equally premeditated date is something that usually doesn’t work for me.  It reminds me of a friend of mine who would always try to give up something for lent, with pitiful results.  Finally, he threw in the towel and decided to give up some things he knew he would have no problem missing.  He gave up going to bed early, getting up early, sobriety, austerity and celibacy.  And with the exception of celibacy – which stayed with him like a parasitic infection – he passed with flying colors.
Perhaps it’s the word itself.  I looked up “resolution” and found that several definitions had to do with legal proclamations. But the root word “resolve” had what I was looking for.  There I found words like conviction (and I don’t mean felonies), a firm decision, and decisive action. In other words, a genuine sense of responsibility.
You see, I tend to view a resolution as something that takes a real effort, so one should, at the very least, choose something worth the effort.  The problem is that the idea of devoting yourself to a particular course of action can happen anytime and you’d better be ready to take advantage of the opportunity.  
I have an artist friend who lives in Brooklyn.  A few years ago, she hit the wall, as far as her creativity was concerned, and decided the time was right to explore how she could improve as an artist.  She began a thorough program of meditation and, yes, her art improved. But in the process, she found that she had embarked on an amazing journey of self-discovery and growth. Everything about her life, including the way she thought, changed for the better. I asked her if any of this could have happened if she waited until January 1 to resolve to “become a better artist.” No way, she told me.  When it comes to inspiration, you simply cannot negotiate.  It’s carpe diem or nothing.
Even though inspiration and enlightenment – or just the idea to change something fundamental about your behavior – knows no calendar, the start of a new year can at least bring it into your awareness.  One New Year, I resolved to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, then discovered that while I may have planted the seed, I could not force it to grow.  I can only tend the garden.  This attitude is still, and will always be, a process, but, like my artist friend, I’ve found results I hadn’t expected. 
So, if you’ve chosen a New Year’s resolution, I hope it’s something you’re willing to follow through on.  And for those of you lucky enough to have had inspiration strike on December 31 at 11:59 p.m., I hope you seized the moment.

Paul McDonald is a writer, educator and graduate student who thinks too much. He can be reached atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.