The Collaborative Divorce Center

A Word About New Year’s Resolutions

A Word About New Year’s Resolutions

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions but I could never really express why. This week, I found someone who hit the nail on the head for me. Roger Rosenblatt wrote an opinion piece that was published in the New York Times and here is what he said, in part:

New Year’s resolutions are penny-ante prayers. You are this way, but you hope to be that way. You used to want this, but now you want that.

The assumption behind resolutions is that something must be corrected and improved. One vows to be better than one was the year before.

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Thus there is always a melancholic desperation and urgency when we shout, “Happy New Year!” Will this new year, in fact, be any better than the last? We resolve that it will. We resolve to be fitter, healthier, cleverer, richer, more successful, more popular, more productive, better dressed, happier. And so restarts the whole vain, foolish, inevitably disappointing cycle.

The trouble with all such self-oriented promises is that they deal in chicken feed. What does the great wide world care if you lose weight, or work out, or work harder, or quit drinking or smoking.?

Quit smoking or smoke three packs a day. Work out daily or let yourself go. It’s your choice, your life. Your little life. Meanwhile, the world — the whole tortured, self-destructive, polarized, endangered, extraordinary world — spins on.

What if, instead of planning our exercise regimens, we focused our intentions on all that is undesirable in human activity — wars, bigotry, brutality, the despoiling of the earth — and sought to address it. What if instead of making a milquetoast resolution, we made airtight commitments? What will you do — right now, this week, this month — to make a better world? Stage a protest. Send a letter to right a wrong, or to proffer friendship. (A thoughtful, sympathetic letter to a friend in sorrow or distress is a powerful thing.) Lend a hand. Offer a word of comfort or inspiration or support or love. Donate money or, most valuable of all, time. There are so many ways to move this world, right within reach.

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The task of improving the world may seem impossible, but it isn’t. All it takes is the proper sequence of correct discrete decisions. Decisions are just resolutions with teeth.

Perhaps not my first thought, but certainly in the top three upon finishing this remarkable piece, was my commitment to focus on all that is undesirable in family law and divorce. Instead of resolving to work more hours, earn more money, or handle a certain number of cases, I am committed to taking action to change the way people are divorced, to shift the focus from the courts and onto the families, and to make a good divorce affordable for those who want one.

Mr. Rosenblatt finishes his piece with this:

At an event a couple of months ago, someone asked me why I wrote something the way I did, and I found myself blurting out, “To save the world.” It was laughable, preposterous, and true.

Anyone who has spent more than a little bit of time around me (or other collaborative practitioners) knows that I and we sometimes proclaim “World Peace, One Family at a Time!” Mr. Rosenblatt has let me believe that this is laughable, preposterous, and true!

Here’s to 2024!

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