The opposite of resolution

Posted on 07/01/2013


Every January it’s typical for bloggers, celebrities and companies to talk about what they will do differently this time around. I was thinking of doing the same, until I realised it would be pointless.

While it might be therapeutic (or even interesting) to state your intentions, it doesn’t mean a lot until you can show how much you’ve changed. So I started wondering what the opposite is of a New Year’s resolution.

That’s where I got stuck. What exactly is a resolution? To resolve is a bit like to solve, but it also suggests a change of will, an intent.

This is what Google told me:

res·o·lu·tion /rezlooSHn/ Noun

  1. A firm decision to do or not to do something.
  2. A formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting.

Synonyms: decision; determination

So what’s the antonym (opposite)?

  • A dissolution?
  • Un resolution?
  • Immoveable-ness?

(Turns out it’s irresolution: infirmity of purpose, indecision; uncertainty)

That might be the official, OED definition of the word, but a New Year’s resolution is not the same as the original Google definition. It’s often something that you start but don’t finish, a whim you follow before forgetting about it, an idealised version of yourself that you try to work towards.

Irresolution isn’t the right kind of opposite. It should be something reliable, something you don’t forget, ever present and true. Your true nature. You on an average day. If we’re seeking a true opposite, it’s something you don’t want to be. It would be your undesirable self.

So instead of talking about resolutions, here’s a new way to tackle the new year:

1. Face the facts
What are your undesirable qualities? What are you like most days? Put together the truthful (possibly ugly) picture of yourself.

2. Don’t expect to change everything
We can’t change everything and even then, you many not be able to change the things you don’t like. Decide what can stay. What are you unlikely to change about yourself (natural tendency towards laziness, grumpy in the mornings, frizzy hair?) You might actually like some of these traits.

What you keep is the foundation – it’s what makes you, you. Learning to live with the ugly bits will make you happier and help you focus on things you can change.

3. Keep resolving
Things happen. You might plan to visit the gym every week for a year but if that perfect job comes along and you’re working on the other side of town, it probably isn’t going to happen. Equally if the perfect job doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, find something new that you’ll find fulfilling.

The problem with resolutions is they’re inflexible. If you’re willing to change a little, some of them might actually work out.

Posted in: Philosophy