As we are five days into the New Year, I feel compelled to ask the rhetorical question: have you prepared your New Year’s Resolutions?
We’ve all seen/heard/made New Year’s resolutions at one point or another. They can range from the generic ’lose weight, fall in love, become a better person, enjoy life’ to the extremely specific and sometimes odd (Bill Mann of USA Today vowed to “try extreme ironing” in 2014). Regardless of what they may be, it is clear that resolutions are trending this time of year.
If you’ve ever made a New Year’s Resolution, has it come to fruition? Statistics would argue, most likely not. According to a University of Scranton clinical psychology study, only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will actually keep them. Why is this the case?
Well to start, most New Year’s Resolutions, especially the generic ones, lack any sort of detail or accountability that would otherwise flesh out a concrete goal. A resolution like ’lose weight’ contains no specific amount of weight to lose, strategy on how to lose it, or realistic timeline, making it an extremely hard declaration to hold oneself to. One could argue that resolutions are simply things people make because they feel like they have to.
I don’t like making New Year’s Resolutions, or the idea of them in general. This aversion is twofold.
Firstly, people use the New Year as a sort of reset button. It’s the kind of timing that allows people to think that a new year means starting over (hence “New Year, New Me”), and by doing so, they will be able to get something right and improve upon the foundation of a blank slate. If you really want to better yourself that much, why not start right away? The fact that people use the new year to make an attempt to improve themselves shows that they don’t have the motivation to get started right away, meaning that the drive to make said resolution come true, is in fact, non-existent. This is also apparent in the generic nature of these resolutions. A resolution that you will want to keep is most likely a resolution that is unique and specific to you. Recycling the same old resolutions, year after year, causes them to lose their importance after a while. No wonder most New Year’s Resolutions fail by the end of January- it is hard to hold yourself to a standard you don’t strongly believe in.
The problem of New Year’s Resolutions also has to do with the future-oriented mentality we tend to carry around with us. “I will do it tomorrow” “I will be better tomorrow” “Things will be good in the future”. What about today? By setting New Year’s Resolutions, we fixate ourselves strictly on the prospect of a better tomorrow- that we will be more improved in the future and that all we have going for us is how much better we will be later on. New Year’s Resolutions may help us to strive for a better tomorrow, but what they don’t help us with is self-appreciation. By constantly focusing on the idea of the improved self, we remove the attention that should be focused on liking and accepting ourselves for who we are today. You are a dynamic, powerful individual who has a lot to offer this world. If you feel there is something you can improve, then good for you. Self-improvement is not a bad thing and is in fact, essential to progress. However, it becomes unhealthy when it is all you focus on. If you are on a quest to try and change yourself for the better, remember that you are still a good person at this moment in time, and that this self-improvement should be completely voluntary. If you want to improve, do it for yourself, because you believe whatever changes you are going to make will result in you becoming an even better version of yourself than you already are. Because you are already pretty great.
And if you’re still one for generic non-optional social conventions, I think you can still agree that self-appreciation is one of the best ways to “enjoy life”. Here’s to hoping 2015 is a great year for all of you!