Welcome to a new year, everyone! I’m not a big fan of the New Year’s holiday, but I wish you well, all the same.
It seems a little odd to me that people celebrate the passing of one time to the next, to celebrate having to remember to use a different year when dating every signed document. I really hate having to recreate a document just because I used the wrong year!
This is also the day of the year that many people decide to make resolutions to determine some better outcomes in their lives. According to Business Insider, 80% of such resolutions fail by the end of January. I strongly suspect the other 20% resolved to do something simple — like getting a haircut or eating some pizza. That’s the real way one sticks to a resolution. I personally hate making promises that I know I won’t be able to keep, and I treat myself as I do others in that regard. So, I make no New Year’s resolutions.
In truth: Real, significant, and lasting change does not come by neat little dates on the calendar. Instead, real changes come from taking advantage of the daily opportunities that come our way. Truly good resolutions come in the form of resolving to do something about something as it occurs. For example, instead of telling myself that I am going to lose weight this year, I tell myself at my next meal that I’m going to choose some smoked fish instead of of a burger, and I don’t worry about the rest of the year (or the month, or even the rest of the day).
There’s nothing wrong with having goals, but don’t lie to yourself by saying that you’re going to achieve them by resolving to do something for the rest of the year that you are likely to fail at keeping. It isn’t even really about making shorter-term smaller goals. It’s about deciding to do something differently at a time when an opportunity to do so has presented itself.
I’m sure that if you have read this far, you are wondering why this article is appearing in a publication devoted to libertarian philosophy and ideals.
Libertarians often complain that the world is not changing quickly enough. They complain that it seems like only a few care about reinstalling liberty into our lives and the way we govern ourselves. It can seem like a hopeless cause and, sometimes, a waste of time.
So, forget about the larger concerns. If you want to do something big, that’s wonderful, but those larger gestures aren’t a necessary focus altogether.
You don’t have to resolve that this year, you will work for a campaign to make a change. You don’t have to resolve that this year, you will write all your government representatives every week until they change their ways. When an opportunity for something comes your way, do things a little bit differently than you would have done them before.
If someone you know loses his job and is in a bind financially, perhaps you could offer something to help — even $20 is something. By doing so, you have contributed $20 less than what might have been stolen from someone else if they had to rely on public assistance.
If your government representative makes a great error in the way he votes on a particular law, make a single call or write a single email to voice your concern. You’ve spoken your mind and said your piece.
If you love to debate, that’s fine. Find people who are open to it. But for those of us who don’t seek out debates, it’s okay to mention your opinion on a particular subject when it comes up. You don’t necessarily have to back it up with a long dissertation and make everyone angry.
I have noticed that grand gestures and broken promises to oneself rarely get much accomplished in the way of making significant change. It is most typically the small things that inspire others to do more. Show other people with a small gesture that they don’t need government assistance, and others will be inspired by it. Forget about waiting around for someone to lead you into a new revolution.
It’s by focusing on the small things that you can do yourself, that really makes substantial changes as those around you become inspired by these small acts. Take advantage of opportunities as they come and don’t worry so much about the world picture of things.
Forget silly resolutions you aren’t going to keep. You become the person you want to be on a daily basis — even an hourly one. You apply that to your personal life or to your political aspirations. It doesn’t matter, as long as you apply it to those things you wish to change.
This article represents the views of the author, and not those of Being Libertarian LLC.
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