yeah I said it, New Year’s resolutions suck… and before you get the pitchforks please just hear me out.
If something doesn’t feel right, I question it. Therefore, I question a lot of social norms. My theory: our environment and cultural norms are the reason we’re so miserable. Why I was miserable at least.
When you think about it, New Year’s resolutions are as much a disappointment as New Year’s Eve night. The night never lives up to the hype, and resolutions usually fail.
If you haven’t guessed from the title, one of the norms making us miserable is the New Year’s resolution. I’m not saying don’t make goals, or don’t aim at bettering yourself. What I am saying is to not make New Year’s resolutions. There’s a huge difference.
New Year’s resolutions don’t work
Resolutions are a dime a dozen. They make us feel good in the moment. Then they make us feel like shit—potentially for months.
It’s like that last drink you know you shouldn’t have because it’s gonna make you hungover. Sure Deb, it was great to get wasty and sing Celine Dion during karaoke, but how’s that two day hangover working out for ya?
With resolutions the hangover can be months long.
A study found that 88% of 3,000 people surveyed did not come through on their New Year’s resolutions. Most people ditch their resolutions by February. When you think of it, 3k isn’t a lot to make a conclusive, statistical finding. So think of what you’ve seen.
Do you hear a lot of people discussing their New Year’s resolution progress past January? Do you notice the gym getting less crowded after February? Have you ever come through on a New Year’s resolution?
New Year’s resolutions just don’t work. There isn’t enough drive to keep us going. Because if we had the drive we would start what we were trying to resolve now—not wait.
What are New Year’s resolutions anyway?
On the surface it may seem like resolutions are helping us better ourselves. But they aren’t.
Seriously, think of it. We decide we want to do something so we make a statement we are going to do it. But we won’t do it just yet, we’re going to wait a week or a month or whatever to start… it’s illogical.
It’s like society decided to collectively make a tradition where we all just live in denial for a moment. Sure, I’m gonna start working out and eating healthier—after Jan 1. Let me just eat this entire cake right now. Sure, I’ll quit smoking, let me just smoke 2 packs a day until then.
We put pressure on the date and once the clock strikes 12 we transfer the pressure to ourselves. Maybe we try for a week or so, but the momentum isn’t there. It sputtered out while we were waiting for Jan 1 to get here.
We fail at the resolution, we think we can’t succeed on what we were trying to “resolve,” and then we feel bad about ourselves…. aand the cycle is complete. This can have us feeling like shit for months. What a way to start a new year!
It’s a tradition born from a fixed mindset that only increases a fixed mindset.
New Year’s resolution vs no New Year’s resolution
One year I went to a friend’s house for Christmas. She kept bringing up her New Year’s resolution. It was to lose weight. So she was pigging out during Christmas. Eating massive amounts of food and putting extra icing on cakes. It was hard to hold my gag reflex.
She kept saying how she needs to enjoy it now because next year she won’t be able to enjoy any of it—she didn’t look like she was enjoying anything. And next year she is going to suffer… next year meaning in one week.
Me, on the other hand, I’ve been maintaining my 40 pound weight loss for 3 years at this point. I had no resolution. I was going to continue to do me. Be healthy and focus on constant improvement. I ate a normal amount and also enjoyed some delicious apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
Spoiler alert: I’m still maintaining my weight. She fell back on her resolution after 1 week.
3 things to do instead
The common idea is to set goals instead of resolutions. My man Tony Robbin’s paid someone to write an article about that here. And goals are a good place to start.
A goal would be more realistic and specific than a resolution and can be measured. So you would say, “I’m going to cut back on eating out. I’ll only eat out 2x a week instead of 5”. Where a resolution would be, “I’m going to be more financially responsible.”
You can also think of where you want to be and why. How good will it feel to get there? What will it look like? What will you need to do to get there? This way you get yourself hyped up over how good it will feel and give yourself momentum.
From there, visualize the steps it will take and try to see them in a new perspective. Instead of thinking of the gym as a death sentence, think of it as being good to your body. Instead of thinking you can’t eat fried food, think that you are making the decision to eat healthier.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fried food. And I still get down on some chicken wings from time to time. But it really ain’t all that. And you lose a taste for it when you stop eating it. RIP french fries, I loved you!
Instead of visualizing what could go right, visualize what could go wrong. Many times we don’t start because we are nervous of failure. When we face that failure we work through how we can overcome it and hopefully remove blockers.
For example, maybe you want to lose weight but you’re nervous you won’t be able to enjoy the foods you currently enjoy. Or maybe you are comfortable being overweight because it’s all you’ve known.
Video about fear setting here.
Resolve to ditch New Year’s resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions suck. They’re a weird cultural norm founded from a fixed mindset. When we use them we set ourselves up for failure and suffering.
If you want to make a change, you’re going to need a spark to ignite the fire. A resolution won’t do that. So figure out what you want your life to look like, visualize it, continually think about it. Work out what could go wrong and how you will overcome obstacles, and then get to work.
I don’t care if you do it on a Monday in March or a Tuesday in May. But try to start sooner rather than later and don’t let a damn calendar determine your life.
Photo by Inga Seliverstova
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