It’s a new year and it’s only natural to look to the future and think about some fitter, happier, more productive image of yourself. A version of yourself that is a better gamer, card player, and sportsman, or sportswoman. A version of yourself that rises to the occasion of accomplishing a challenging goal in your personal life, work, or even at tournament Magic.

With all that being said, in my opinion, New Year’s resolutions are exercises in futility. Yeah, I’m as cuddly as a cactus and as charming as an eel. Bah-humbug.

It’s not that I’m against the endgame of leveling up. I’m all for it. It’s more the process of New Year’s resolutions that I take issue with. I want to have a great 2018, personally and Magically, as much as the next person, but I’m weary of get-rich-quick schemes.

As January 1st rolls around, everyone is compelled to make a gutsy public promise to undergo some challenging self-improvement goal for the upcoming year. I’m pretty sure the entire concept was invented to sell unused gym memberships (emphasis on unachieved goals here).

Actually, that is a lie: Not the part about gyms opportunistically capitalizing on resolutions to push membership, but rather the part about it being the origin of the custom.

The actual origin of New Year’s resolutions is religious and was practiced by a number of cultures. At the start of a new year, individuals would promise their God, or Gods, different ways that they would be better subjects. It was a personal and sacred custom.

The start of a new year is a natural time to start thinking about change because it marks the turning of a page between the last year and the new year. With that being said, every moment of every day delineates between the past and future.

A big part of the issue I take with some modern New Year’s resolution is that it feels phony. For example, the social media dog and pony show. It’s almost like people compete to out-resolution one another to see who can think of the most interesting things to change!

The support of others can be a powerful motivator. But ultimately the hardest part about change (at least for me) has always been sticking with it through the unglamorous stages after the “rah-rah” phase has subsided. It’s kind of easy to make something new really interesting and important for a few days or weeks, but it’s a lot harder to stick with something after that interesting newness has faded.

It is estimated that roughly 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail. I’m not surprised. I’m not sure I’ve ever been successful at sticking to one myself. They feel like something you say after a week of indulging and relaxing during holiday break and then quickly forget about once you return to the routine of work or school. Once the glamour wears off and life sets in the whole thing falls apart.

They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, yet not every first step guarantees reaching the intended destination a thousand miles away. Do you remember, or have you ever seen, the G.I. Joe public service announcements from the 80s that would teach some life lesson and conclude by saying, “And knowing is half the battle…”?

In my experience, knowing is most certainly not equal to half the battle. There are roughly 300 calories in a 20 oz. bottle of Mountain Dew, which is the antithesis of getting into shape and therefore you should never drink them. If constantly avoiding succumbing to the temptation of a delicious sugary beverage is an equal half to knowing it is unhealthy, one of these halves of the battle is dramatically more challenging.

Making the resolution is not an equal effort activity to following through on it.

“I’m going to get better at Magic,” is not half the battle. It’s basically just acknowledging that a battle might happen!If you don’t have the determination or a plan for how to stick with it when it gets hard, boring, or even worse, inconvenient, it’s more of a wish than a resolution.

I have the same goals and the same resolve to achieve them that I’ve had for years. I want to be fitter, happier, and more productive. Sorry, I was listening to O.K. Computer today and the line has kind of stuck in my mind. I keep chipping away at those goals piece by piece, month after month, and it slowly comes together and works better and better.

All those simple goals:

  • Get better at Magic.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Read more.
  • Be happier.
  • Get into better shape.

There is no switch you can just flip to achieve the desired outcome. I wish there were. Despite the fact that G.I. Joe taught me that “knowing is half the battle,” I’m fairly certain that the hard parts of changing habits and behavior are the majority of the legwork on the journey of a thousand miles.

The thing about these resolutions is that there is no one thing you can do to achieve the desired outcome. In order to change one aspect of your life there are so many other places that change needs to occur.

Getting better at Magic isn’t something you do in a week like you might cram for a final. All of these things people resolve to do on New Year’s Day require long commitments to even begin to achieve. They cannot be easily accomplished on a whim.

It’s not something you can do in a month. It’s a process that you achieve over time by learning about the game and how to play it well. There’s no easy way to do it because it isn’t easy.

It requires that you love it enough that you’re willing to spend a long time working at learning the nuances.

It requires practice and patience.

Even when you start to think you’re good, it requires putting your ego aside and listening to others.

It requires pushing through the frustration and emotion of bad beats and getting back on the horse.

It requires accepting that you’ll make mistakes along the way and being honest and accountable.

Was I talking about Magic, or was I talking about literally everything that is worth doing ever?

We all want great things for ourselves in 2018, both in life and in Magic. There is a big difference between wishing for great 2018 and resolving to do great things in 2018. I hope to see you all fitter, happier, and more productive at the top tables and doing great things in September 2018 and beyond.