New Year decisions and resolutions: what's the difference?

We wish you a Contented New Year of the Rabbit. It starts officially on 3 February 2011.

According to my exhaustive academic research (well OK, half a minute on Google) a year of the rabbit will be lazy and self-indulgent. I'm looking forward to what's predicted:

Lifestyle will be languid, leisurely and lax, and money can be made without too much labor.

Bring it on!

I don't think I've ever made a resolution in my life. The very word makes me frown. Yet I did make an interesting personal decision in the new year: I'm not going to buy any new clothes (or secondhand clothes) all year.

That new year decision was quick and sure, and I expect it will be very simple to stick to my plan. For me, 2010 was The Year of Clothes. I had plenty of excuses to refresh my wardrobe: weight loss, special events, travel, and a sudden urge to look like a grown-up. So  while I don't have a mountain of clothes, I have sufficient and they are all OK.

This episode got me thinking: why is a New Year Resolution such a very big deal? Why do most people fail to keep their resolutions? Why did my rather radical decision seem so easy?

Naturally, words are at the heart of this conundrum. Resolve, resolute, resolution ... The very words suggest superhuman effort and the possibility of failure. They sound and feel like rolling boulders uphill into a horrible dark deep cave.

HMS Resolution was the ship Captain Cook sailed for two immense journeys of exploration. A heavy name for a ship with a heavy responsibility.

Decisions and deciding are difficult for some people, I know, but they don't carry the same burden. The words sound swift, short, sharp and shiny, like a big knife slicing watermelon. No resolve was required for my little decision: it was just a case of asking myself, Yes or no? OK then! And by sheer chance, it was early in January when the thought sprang into my mind.

As for rabbits, despite the charm of Bright Eyes, they don't have a lot of choice when it comes to shaping any year—not even this Year of the Rabbit. Maybe they make decisions but I bet they don't make resolutions.

I can't find the copyright holder for this photo of a New Zealand White rabbit. That name, New Zealand White, is a paradox, since this breed originated in America, and (brown) bunnies have been pests here ever since they were introduced around 1840. As for the name applied to human beings: let's not go there.

This white rabbit doesn't look particularly relaxed. But maybe the photo was taken in a scary year, like 2010, Year of the Tiger.

The horrible history of rabbits in New Zealand


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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