It’s a new year—and that means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. But to my mind, New Year’s resolutions can be a tricky thing. I wouldn’t say that I’m totally against them. Like most people, I make a few of my own resolutions each year—and there is nothing inherently wrong with that.
But the thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they can also be kind of a trap.
To see what I mean, we have only to look at the statistics for yearly gym memberships to see how these resolutions can be a trap. Most years, pandemic notwithstanding, gym memberships soar in January. After that? They drop off. By February, memberships are back down, and more trickle away throughout the year.
Why? It’s because many people make the resolution to get fitter or healthier in January—but then by February, they’ve found reasons why the resolution is undoable, and the goal they’ve made for that year gets thrown out until next year when it’s time to try again with a new resolution.
My point here is this: Often, when people make New Year’s resolutions, they don’t follow through on those resolutions. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. Resolutions are by nature difficult to achieve, and it’s an admirable thing to even try. Very few of us can say that we haven’t failed at New Year’s resolution. It’s in the goal setting, the working to achieve those goals—those are the good aspects of New Year’s resolutions.
And what about the bad? The bad, to my mind, is that when we make these resolutions, we adopt this mentality of “new year, time to try again.” In other words, once we’ve canceled that gym membership in February, that’s it. We’re finished with this goal for the rest of the year, and we have no intention of trying again until next year.
The way I see it, that’s not how self-improvement should work. Self-improvement should be a continuous thing. So you skipped the gym in the final week of January and now you’re thinking you ought not go back in February because it’s hard to find the time or the money to pay for the membership. I would say, instead of quitting outright and waiting for next year’s resolutions to roll around, find another way to accomplish your goals. If time or motivation is the issue, then treat each week as a new beginning. Each week, work to find the time or motivation you need to follow through on your goals. If it’s money that is the problem, well—maybe cancel that gym membership, but make a point to take up walking, jogging, bodyweight fitness, or something else you can do on the cheap.
What I’m getting at here is that New Year’s resolutions can trick us into a mode in which we only set goals for ourselves once a year, and if we fail to achieve those goals over the course of that year, instead of picking up where we left off or setting new goals, we simply wait until the next year to start again. But the reality is, just as a new year is a new beginning, so is a new month, a new week, and a new day.
It’s the same with your photography goals. Don’t resolve to take more photographs this year, then lose track of that resolution as the year wears on. Set yourself smaller goals and keep the idea of continuous improvement in mind. Make smaller steps. Resolve to take more photographs this month, this week, or maybe even today.
Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.