Yesterday, like many families, my husband and I had a New Year's talk. We walked the dog as we reflected on what 2014 had been like and we discussed our hopes and dreams for 2015. The dog reflected on urine smells and ground squirrels, mostly.
When we got home, we each wrote up what we discussed. Being people of a certain type, we made charts. On our lists, there are concretely achievable goal-type things: pay off the Bank of America card, submit the public space article by spring break, finish revising the KR manuscript. But there are also some things listed that can't be quantified or checked off quite as easily: spend more time with friends, make meditation a daily practice, blog more (!).
Reflecting on the different natures of the items on my list has had me thinking about the difference between the seemingly trendier term goal vs the almost archaic seeming resolution.
It's easy to find goal setting workshops, and, as any productivity expert is likely to agree, goals are great because they are measureable and "actionable."
I spent some time thinking about what's tied up in the word resolution, and there's much loveliness there.
The word comes from the Latin verb resolvere, which means to loosen, to unyoke, to release. This etymology is a bit surprising given that we sometimes see resolving as so forceful, a kind of muscling through the process of change. But considering this origin of the word in the context of a new year, we might imagine a letting go of the accumulated patterns that didn't serve us well.
Additionally, the many definitions of resolution span a surprising number of fields of human inquiry and are beautifully instructive:
In addition to the typical meaning of committing to do something,
from law, it means to bring an end to a dispute
from medicine, it means the dissipation or healing of symptoms,
and in music, it means the transition from discord to concord.
While I think many of us will continue to keep our sexier (and more practical) goals, we might also consider the beauty of this older concept, resolution. In its various meanings as well as its etymology, we hear resolution whispering ideas about a return to balance, a return to sustainability, a bringing back into alignment of our habits and ways of being, something we could all use a little more of in the New Year.
Get a Life, PhD
The Professor is In
The Thesis Whisperer
Tenure, She Wrote