New Year’s Resolutions—Why Bother?

By this time, you’re probably tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions. While they can be useful tools for some people, I think New Year’s resolutions are for masochists. There has to be a better way to begin the New Year than by setting yourself up for the agony of failure! While I agree that the New Year should be a time for some serious introspection—a life and lifestyle review, I don’t think resolutions are a good idea. You see, as we age, we become increasingly set in our ways and resistant to changes in our habits, routines and addictions. That’s just a fact!

These resolutions are a by-product of this obligatory review of the mistakes we’ve made during the past year. While New Year’s resolutions are a noble idea, the fact is, they may have a greater negative effect on us than a positive one. If we fail to achieve our lofty goals for the New Year, we lose self-esteem, we lose confidence—our egos are crushed! This is not a good outcome and certainly no way to begin a new year.

Top 10 Resolutions for 2014

According to the University of Scranton, as published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the following list comprises the top ten resolutions for 2014:

1. Lose weight

2. Get organized

3. Spend less, save more

4. Enjoy life to the fullest

5. Get fit and healthy

6. Learn something exciting

7. Quit smoking

8. Help someone realize their dream

9. Fall in love

10. Spend more time with family

These are great goals that could apply to almost anyone … they seem rather generic. Who among us couldn’t benefit from shedding a few pounds, being better organized, becoming thriftier, getting more enjoyment from life, getting fit, learning anything new, kicking the nicotine habit, helping someone succeed, falling in love and spending more time with family?

But Here’s the Problem

• Forty-five percent of us make New Year’s resolutions

• Seventeen percent of us rarely make New Year’s resolutions

• Thirty-eight percent of us never make New Year’s resolutions

• Twenty-four percent of us never succeed in achieving our resolutions—year-after-year

• A mere eight percent of us succeed in our New Year’s resolutions

And, substantiating my earlier point, of those successful eight percent, thirty-nine percent are in their twenties, while those in their fifties comprise just fourteen percent of the total.

Why Bother?

When you consider that statistically speaking, our chances of sticking to our New Year’s resolution(s) are less than one in ten, why do we bother? When we don’t succeed, which the study shows to be the most likely outcome, we feel guilty, and we feel like failures! This failure erodes our confidence and makes us feel terrible about ourselves … Happy New Year!

Personally, I have no intention of making any New Year’s resolutions. I really don’t need to rack up another failure. I don’t enjoy feeling guilty. I want to feel good about myself this coming year! I, for one, have no intention of trying to beat the odds, particularly in view of the fact that I fall into that fifty something “high risk” group.

As I see it, the only way to make successful New Year’s resolutions is to go with things you are already accomplishing … like:

1. I will drink two cups of coffee and smoke three cigarettes before I start my day.

2. I will not exercise more than once per week.

3. I will not wash dishes.

4. I will only watch television from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

5. I will only eat fast food 5 days per week.

Now these are resolutions I can keep! I know I can keep them because I am already doing these five things with complete success.

Personally, I prefer GOALS! Goals are not the product of peer pressure, social convention or custom. Goals can be articulated on any one of the 365 days in a given year.

Goals, not annual resolutions, are the best alternative to resolutions in my view.

For those of you determined to craft New Year’s resolutions, God speed! I wish you success. I also wish there were money trees, geese that lay golden eggs, mermaids and a fountain of youth.

What do you think about New Year’s resolutions? Have you made any? How many have you already broken?

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