By Moneca Jantzen

There are certain times of the year that lend themselves to thoughts of renewal and transformation and New Year’s Day is the biggie. The onset of spring and the month of September (think Solstices) seem to be other times in the course of the year that we think of beginning something new, but neither is as compelling or tempting as the beginning of a new calendar year. The freshness of a new calendar brings notions of a clean slate. The pressure to make a new batch of resolutions is enormous whether we would like to admit it or not.

It has even become fashionable to not bother making resolutions in recent years given their apparent futility. It turns out that changing our habits and learning to make better choices for ourselves takes a great deal more than a brand new calendar or daytimer. Surprise, surprise!

I recently read about a couple of fellows that spent their year trying a new self-improvement goal each month only to come to the conclusion that self-improvement overwhelmingly doesn’t stick. My bookshelf, full of self-improvement books (goals unrealized) would reinforce this conclusion.

As someone who does some serious navel-gazing each holiday season, after several decades of doing so and ending up with a similar list of goals each January, I have to question what it is going to take to realize my goals. If I take the plunge and sign up for a Tony Robbins-like event, will that make things happen? I bristle at the cultish feel of this method, but maybe I need a bit of ‘brainwashing’ to have success. After half a century of trying, I should be a perfect human by now and yet I am far from it!

For several years, I have done a vision board. I enjoy doing these because I am a visual person and its just a lot of fun. Now I do it in Photoshop instead of cutting up magazines. I have noticed that it is the material goals that are easier to meet as compared to the less tangible ones of finding love or enjoying life. Every year I manage to accomplish a few things, but I have yet to nail everything, let alone the majority of goals. My more recent vision boards have had many of the same goals from one year to the next so it has become more of a “re-vision” board. Try, try again is my motto.

Lately, I am finding myself thinking about some new goals that are inspired by genuine concerns for wider society and the planet, not just little ‘ole me. Our society’s use of plastic and our collective ability to consume throw-a-way clothing and other waste, is actually quite horrifying.

Admittedly, I have been a bit of a lazy consumer. Aside from using grocery bins, I never remember to bring my own re-usable bags to other stores. I refuse to buy bottled water, yet I’m growing increasingly aware of how much waste I generate when I buy take-out food or buy groceries. Everything seems overpackaged once you get it home and have to try to recycle everything. I’m still adjusting to the new recycling routine dictated by the City of Kamloops. Making extra trips to deal with plastic film and glass hasn’t come easily.

In spite of my overall lack of success in achieving goals like saving money or being more active, I still maintain that goal setting is important no matter what time of year it is. Nothing will ever change if one’s head is in the sand and we remain oblivious to our shortcomings or areas we can fine tune. Aspiring to change and improve oneself is not so much a lack of self-acceptance as it is a way of finding purpose. Similarly, we must continue to set social goals to save the planet or improve the human condition, again no matter how futile this may seem. The prospect of positive change indicates one still has hope in this thing we call life and it will be a terrible thing if we all stop trying to make things better, personally and collectively.