Wednesday, December 31, 2008


At midnight tonight, we transition from 2008 to 2009. On some level, it's arbitrary - what makes this date more important than any other moment in time? However, the thing that I think does is what it symbolizes. A blank slate, or tabula rasa, which allows us to begin anew. Could we begin anew on September 24th, let's say? Sure, but the symbolism of the new year is very powerful.

Many people choose this time to set resolutions. What can I do differently? Just remember, if you set these goals, use milestones. Don't just say "I want to go to the gym more" or "I want to stop smoking" or "I want straight A's next semester". The problem with goals like this is that timelines are very cloudy.

It's all well and good, for example, to say "I want to get straight A's", but if you make that a resolution and forget about it until April, you may discover you are closer to straight "F's". Instead, you should remember this goal. Make sure every Friday, let's say, you devote extra time to studying.

The same type of thing happens sometimes when people say "I want to lose 30 pounds this year" - they get to April and they have lost two pounds, and they just sort of say "heck with it". If people dedicate themselves to it, say "3 pounds a month" and weigh themselves on the first of each month, they know what they're doing right and wrong as time goes on.

A resolution is not powerful if you don't revisit it, otherwise it is just wishful thinking.

I want to thank you all for a great year. Teaching has improved my quality of life and my happiness, and many of you have made impacts on my life in the same way I've made impacts on yours.

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday, and I hope your resolutions for 2009 come true.

PS: In some computer programming, languages (for example, Perl or C++), typing out
would increment the variable Year by 1, hence the title of today's blog.

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