I make a New Year’s resolution each year, even though it’s an arbitrary thing to do and I never succeed at making the change anyway. This year, I’m turning 30 and I really do want to make a change in my life (to quit my job). So if I say that’s my New Year’s resolution, am I setting myself up for failure since I have never been able to stick to a resolution before? Are New Year’s resolutions even worth it? I’m afraid screwing this up will make turning 30 traumatic and I’ll get depressed and my girlfriend won’t want to marry me.

— Mark Alexander

Please see my last take on New Year’s resolutions. If you fear that you’ll somehow do something to make turning 30 traumatic (and this is a recent experience for me), turning 30 will assuredly be traumatic (you’ll make up something if you have to)…. More…

Do you have any advice on how to stick to New Year’s resolutions? How do poets do it?

— Carl

My impulse is to say that if a poet breaks a New Year’s Resolution, she reflects on it, maybe writing a few lines of verse in private, and then realizes that it never should have been a New Year’s resolution in the first place. Just read the first stanza from Alfred Nicol’s “New Year”:

Like an engaging lady’s whim,

Or like a tabby’s morning swim;

Like an accountant’s spending spree,

A starlet’s popularity,

A daughter’s mood, a boy’s regrets,

An open box of chocolates;

Like morning mist; like cradlesong:

My resolution lasts as long.

New Year’s resolutions are whimsical things that have been an obligation ever since hat assignment in grade school (if I remember right it was something like “Write down Ten New Year’s Resolutions”). This obligation stays with… More…