Do New Year’s Resolutions Matter?

Well it’s the new year.  2015 has made way for 2016.  And you know what that means?  Time to destroy all your illusions of security and make you question whether everything you thought you knew was wrong.

But not really…mostly I want to ask the question “do New Year’s resolutions actually matter?”  It’s almost a bit of a running gag these days.  The end of the year approaches.  You decide that next year, you’re not going to be the same, stupid lazy person you were this year.  You’re going to shape up.  You’re going to fly right.  You’re going to exercise and get healthy.

And then three weeks into the new year you completely drop it and forget all about your resolution.

It’s the stuff cheap comedy is made of.  With that being said, here’s a quick comedy video about it:

 

 

Fun stuff.  But we’re getting off track.  If you scroll around on the internet, you’ll come across many posts saying things like “how NOT to fail your New Year’s resolutions” or “how to do New Year’s resolutions right”, so on and so forth.  But I’ve always felt like the concept is a little bit of a cheat, like it’s a way for people to appear more self-conscious than they are.  At the same time, I feel like resolutions are forced on people, that pop-culture seems to demand that you make a resolution because we should all better ourselves.  They go “oh…you’re NOT making a resolution this year?  What do you NOT want to be a better person?”  I just have one question:

Why aren’t we making resolutions all the time?

Why is it that only during this one point in the year do we look at ourselves and say “I should change this” or “I want to be better at this”?  I’m not saying wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and count all the ways you suck every single morning or anything, but it seems to me that New Year’s resolutions just don’t work the way that they should.  It’s this strange cultural thing that’s forced on people more than anything (like how you have to say what you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving…but never any other time of the year).

And here’s the thing: I actually like the idea of resolutions.  I like the concept of setting goals for yourself.  They’ve just become so cliché nowadays that people tend not to take them seriously.  Everyone has made the “exercise more” resolution at some point in their lives.  And then just weeks into the new year they drop it and give up.  It’s such a common trope that it eventually became the fodder of sitcoms and the like.

Let me tell you a little story.  Last year, on my birthday, I made a decision.  For the longest time, I’ve wanted to write.  I started out writing short stories as a way to hone my craft, and I thought that maybe I could use them to break into the writing world in a way.  I was afraid to try writing an actual novel because I didn’t want to face the possibility of failure.  So I started off small, telling myself that I’d start writing a book once I got myself published.  But I realized something: short stories are not a very good market anymore.  They’re good practice, don’t get me wrong, but the demand for them is rather low.  There’s just not many places that tend to publish them anymore unless you collect them in an anthology, and even then most people only read anthologies by already acknowledged writers.

So on my 25th birthday, I made a decision.  I started writing a book and I told myself I would see it through to the end, for better or for worse.

And that’s why I find the idea of New Year’s resolutions to be a bit hokey.  It seems like such a lazy way to do things.  Once a year people sat back and say “oh I suppose I should try something new this next year…uh…I guess I’ll exercise or try to paint or something…I don’t know whatever.”  And then next year rolls around and things hardly change.  Maybe they stick with the resolution for a while, but often they get dropped at some point during the year.  It’s been said that over half of the people who make resolutions fail to keep them by the end of the year.  Which is why I say that instead of setting one goal for yourself once a year (which is far too easy to shrug off), why aren’t we constantly setting goals for ourselves, even just little ones?  At the very least we should keep ourselves aware of the things we don’t like in our lives and try to change them.

You can never fail more than if you don’t try.  But you can always try to be better.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Check back next Wednesday for another post and have a wonderful, fulfilling new year!

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