Are resolutions setting you up to fail?

There has long been the assumption that New Year’s resolutions are often doomed to fail. It starts off with the best of intentions, whether it’s focused on self-improvement or chasing a dream, yet those efforts seem to end long before February arrives. I’ve often wondered whether to start a resolution is to express an empty promise.

It seems part of a tradition that as one year is about to end, and another begin, that we should set resolutions for the new year; you often hear the chorus of, ‘New Year, New Me’. With the goals seemingly simple in their premise, weight loss, stopping a bad habit (such a giving up smoking or stop biting your nails), save more. It’s one I’ve seen countless times, with people in my village take up running on January 1st, yet the numbers dwindle by January 31st. So why do such good intentions fall short?

Could it be due to motivation or lack thereof, after the festive celebrations and the break in routine? Or perhaps, it could be due to a difference in the want to change but the reluctance to making the necessary changes needed to reach your goal.

It could even be down in part to crowd psychology. Whereby, we go with the mass ideology that resolutions do not work, and as such, do not invest in enough time and motivation into them. It could be a combination of those factors as to why we seem to be so weak-willed when it comes to resolutions.

If that is the case, why do we invest time in creating resolutions, or promising that we’ll achieve last year’s promises this year? Maybe it does come back down to this idea or want to change, to be a better version of ourselves than we could possibly be.

After all, we are constantly growing and developing as a person. We are not the same person we were last year, or the year before. I don’t think anyone can truly say that they are the same person at 18, that they were at 8.

Yet, I can understand why people invest in resolutions. It’s a path to change, not a shortcut to. With most changes, it requires motivation and commitment; resolutions also require this.

But why wait until a new year? Why not start when you first started thinking about taking up that hobby, or stopping that bad habit, or save what coppers you have in a small way towards saving?

Is it because a new year is like a blank slate. Plenty of time stretching ahead in which you can easily accomplish what you need. Something to focus on outside the normal routine and worries, whilst taking a step into the right direction as to who we want to be; or simply put, it could be a more convenient time for everyone (with no work or everyday routine to tire us and distract so that we procrastinate).

There could be many reasons why resolutions work the way they do, and it has become a fixture in our festive traditions. As well as why they may not work for everyone.

But there are a few exceptions to every rule. There are those runners who continue long into the summer, those who drop the winter weight, quit cigarettes and stop chewing their nails and those who save and save.

I suppose that’s why I still sit on New Year’s Eve and share mine. I hope to find that same motivation in those runners I see year in and year out, to make the changes I’d like to see (however cliché they may seem outwardly).

To embark on my yearly blank slate and leave it with a more positive change in myself than I did the year before.

Still working on my resolutions…

~ E

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