There are two types of people in this world: those who make New Year’s resolutions and those who hate all the damn idiots making New Year’s resolutions
Take a wild guess which kind of person I am.
It’s not that I have any problem with the concept of a resolution; I think an active attempt to better one’s self is a totally worthwhile goal. In fact, I think setting goals is the only way a person can hope to improve his lot in life (excluding an incredible stroke of luck like winning the lottery or finding a pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow. But I wouldn’t sit around waiting for that to happen, because unless you’re a wee little Irish elf, the closest you’ll ever get to a pot o’ gold are probably those little green marshmallows in Lucky Charms. And do you know what the odds of winning the lottery are? You’d probably be better off attempting to shrink 5 feet and learning to say, “They’re magically delicious!” in an Irish accent.)
So if self-improvement is a perfectly noble goal, what’s the matter with New Year’s resolutions? In a word: everything.
First, let’s take a moment to examine the types of resolutions people are making. At every New Year’s Eve party, there is at least one woman who vows to lose weight in the coming year (before inhaling half a tray of artisan cheese and crackers) and at least one guy who loudly promises to quit smoking (before excusing himself to go outside and burn one last cancer stick just to, you know, celebrate the New Year).
My problem with resolutions like this? They’re too vague, which makes them all too easy to put off. Sure, you’ll intend to start your diet on January 1, but when that morning comes around, will you really be disciplined enough to walk past all the holiday treats that are likely still sitting on your kitchen counter and reach for an apple instead? Or will you just tell yourself, “I really meant to start dieting on January 2, after the last of these Christmas cookies are gone”?
Unless resolutions come with a concrete goal and an ending date, (example: “I will lose 20 pounds by March 15” instead of “I will lose weight”), they’re likely to fail — and quickly. Sure enough, before the end of January, loads of people are ready to give up on the goals that they set with the best intentions only a few weeks earlier. And the majority of them will give themselves pats on the back for at least trying to improve their lives and vow to do better next year.
But why give up on 2012 completely before January is even over? If you genuinely want to improve your life, there’s no need to wait until the start of a new calendar. Any day can be the beginning of a new year and a new you.
Want to make a January 9 resolution? Email Bianca at blchavez “at” stanford “dot” edu, and she’ll help make sure you keep it.