Two Kinds of New Year's Resolutions

Keep up vs. keep on.

Posted Dec 31, 2018

There have been things on my to-do list that I haven't wanted to do. I've wanted to have done them, often wanting to have done them just enough that I get someone on my side or off my back, like demonstrate that I care just enough to sustain a girlfriend's adoration of me, or do my homework just enough to keep my parents from nagging, or exercising just enough that I don't have to worry that people are thinking I'm obese.

I have had minimal, just-keeping-up discipline on such to-do list items, just enough to keep me from sinking. I hear a squeaky wheel, I grease it minimally and wished it didn't squeak ever again.

Other to-do list items find their place into my daily regime. They become second-nature habits, things I keep on doing. Knowing that improvement comes very very very slowly and only with steady practice, I practice, with unconscious abiding faith enough to not wonder how I'm doing. Just putting in regular time on it.

If my New Years resolutions are of any worth, they're about shifting things from the first to the second kind of investment.

It is like investment. Minimal discipline never abandons hopes of getting rich quick, greasing the wheel once and for all, having done the great thing so I could be done with it. I dreamed that I could do my homework once and for all so my parents would be permanently off my back.

The steadier keeping-on habits are more like buy-and-hold investments.

For me, happiness is having healthy pursuits for which I have infinite patience – buy-and-holds that I hold without wondering whether I should, wondering whether I can shirk them somehow. If New Years resolutions are worth anything, they will be commitments that don't take recurring resolve because they instead become integrated, second-nature.