1) The New Year's Resolution is Overly Ambitious
2) New Year's Resolutions Allow Us to Be Lazy the Rest of the Year
3) They Don't Work
|How is she going to read and cook at the same time?|
Think back to last year's resolution. And the year before that. How many times did you hit the middle of February, shrug your shoulders and say, "Ah well, so much for my New Year's Resolution to go rock climbing! I'm too busy now to worry about that." Now I know, some of you are saying, "Hey! I totally met my goals! People who didn't meet theirs either don't have the willpower or set unrealistic goals for themselves - don't go trashing the whole institution!" In response, I'd like to say: Good for you, you hard-working go-getters -- you can set goals and achieve them. For the rest of us, here's the problem: We are the same people on January 1st that we were on December 31st, and no amount of resolve is going to make us change overnight. The people who achieve their goals do so because they've reached a point in their journey where they have the discipline and focus to organize their life in order to achieve certain ends. We're all striving towards that point, and setting goals and working to meet them is an important part of getting there -- but making it all hinge on the arbitrary date of January 1st seems to put an awful lot of pressure on the organic process of personal growth.
|Yes, the dreaded "Lazy Daisy" Syndrome.|
Or more specifically, New Year's Resolutions lead to the appearance of us being lazy the rest of the year, which makes it easier for those of us lacking discipline (see above point) to slack off. People make resolutions all the time. For example, I have a constant, ongoing resolution to write in this blog three times a week -- which if you look back to the December archives, you'll see a point where my willpower failed quite spectacularly. Now, post holiday-associated stress and madness, I'm back on the blogging wagon, with a brand-new resolution to match. But I'm not tying it to this year, because I know that life can't be planned to fit within project timelines and due dates, and I don't make big Facebook-status announcements about it, because it's not a big deal, it's just something I'm working on. With the New Year's Resolution, we run the risk of feeling content with our once-a-year grand declaration, and becoming complacent in our current situations, especially after that initial resolution fails - and yes, it will fail, at least temporarily. The key to transforming the New Year's Resolution into something promoting active growth and continued effort and achievement is transforming it into a constant goal. As Matt Stone and Trey Parker wrote in The Book of Mormon, "tomorrow is a latter day" -- our goals need to work with the daily cycle of renewal, not against it.
3) They Don't Work
Here's where it gets personal. Me, I struggled with an eating disorder when I was seventeen. Thanks to my very involved and tirelessly vigilant family, my destructive habits became unsustainable, and I had to stop. Had to stop, because at that time I didn't want to stop. Eight years later, I am bulimia-free -- for the most part. One of this week's PostSecret's posts summed it up best:
It has been years since I engaged in such behavior, yet no matter how I phrase my resolution, my body, my behavior, and my mind still stubbornly cling to old habits. The way to deal with this, for me, is to be conscious of my internal dialogue, to monitor how I'm feeling about things, and to stay away from triggering activities like set diets. How does this relate to New Year's Resolutions? The obvious connection is the insane amount of people who choose weight loss as their resolution (skewered along with a few other popular choices in this brilliant bit by Art Jonak) -- but I'm thinking more along the lines of achieving resolutions in general. I would never have been able to get my disease under control if it hadn't been for the community of caring individuals that surrounded me then and still surround me now. New Year's Resolutions tend to have the fundamental flaw of being both self-driven and self-oriented. It's kinda hard to run a marathon when you're also responsible for cheering on the sidelines -- and this is what makes sticking to that Resolution so damn hard.