Why I Hate Resolutions
Posted on December 31, 2012 by
Right around the end of the year is traditionally when people make their grand resolutions for the next year. They proclaim goals, usually things such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or a multitude of other self-improvement or life-enhancing changes. "This year I will _______" (fill in the blank). Something about the whole process bugs me.
I get that the end of the year is a natural and logical time to reflect on the current status of your life, and what happened in the past 12 months. But lots of statistics are thrown around that prove only a fraction of people's resolutions survive halfway into the year. I always wondered why that was the case.
Even during the rest of the year if someone claims they are going to make a life change, they always pick a transitory time, such as a Monday or the beginning of a month to begin. After they've thrown themselves into this new initiative, you'll frequently hear them proudly reciting their milestones reached by number of days, weeks or months. And then, somewhere along the line their determination lets up, and their resolution is forgotten (and revisited later at some other "convenient" time such as New Year's).
Could it be that choosing a convenient day to begin a new life-changing effort is the underlying reason it (almost) always fails? By focusing on the milestones you've achieved from that convenient start date, does it create a monsterous weight that will buckle your willpower the second you give in and have a setback? Will the guilt from the setback "ruining" your streak of good behavior make you say "ah what the hell?! I give up"?. That's the thing - even the best of us will have setbacks. The point is that you are creating a new you, new behaviors that didn't exist before. So why look back and dwell on how long ago you were the person that you're trying to leave behind? You're not actually trying to lose the 20 or 30 pounds you resolved to lose... well, you ARE, but losing that weight should be a by-product of what your real goal should be. You should really be trying to change your routines, the kinds of behaviors and bad habits that created the problem you are trying to change. Looking back is not going to allow you to do that. It's a hard process to change yourself, and it's all too easy to allow yourself to slip back into your old ways. Don't make it even harder by reminding yourself how you were before.
So, if you're going to make a resolution, make sure you focus on changing the habits that will bring about the changes you want. Don't think about how long into the process you've lasted. Stick with it despite the inevitable setbacks. And maybe start on a weird day that isn't convenient - like maybe January 4th.