Whoever thought up the New Year’s resolution probably intended well by it, but its meaning has eroded to today’s infamous, scare-quoted “resolution.” Failed reform became the norm. I bet the typical resolution dies because it takes the form of a discrete time chunk one adds, often as a daily routine, to their living: Meditation, volunteering, exercise, diet shifts, etc. What stops this quickly and easily added time chunk from subtracting just as easily and quickly?

Your resolution makes a resolution succeed. So what resolution is more faithful to its intention than to be more resolute? It’s the name of the game. I prefer resolute’s more onomatopoeic synonym, deliberate. Dee-lih-burr-it. Four clear syllables, hard to slur. Rather than adding a new routine, being deliberate seasons your existing routines like salt to enhance their flavor.

Some ways of being deliberate include:

  • Using pen instead of pencil, especially for math problems and crosswords. Pencil is for those who wish to hide their errors or indecision from themselves.
  • Keeping promises, no matter how trivial. Too many times have I intended to follow up with friends or family but failed. If you suggest to someone (even in passing) you should hang out again, do so.
  • When choosing classes, or entering into them this week and next, determining how much effort you want to put into each class and what you hope to glean from each class.
  • Eating the food you cook or take from the servery, if you intend to eat it all. If you don’t, don’t.

I hope you do not think these commands. Being deliberate is a supremely flexible attitude, adding to any choice. You can decide to be deliberate about certain things and not others, or about nothing at all, but I think you will receive its full effect when being deliberate about as many things as possible. 

It is easy to pass through a semester as if in a trance, carried by the rhythmic flow of due dates, parties, lectures, sporting events and presentations. Being deliberate ensures your awareness of thoughts and actions to shape your living into a more comprehensible and cohesive whole. When pursued fully, your living may resemble that of a character in a novel, with no loose ends, or loose ends deliberately left as such. That way, it’d be pretty easy to write your biography.