New Year’s Resolutions are (still) bullshit

Almost a year ago now, I wrote about new year’s resolutions and why I believe that they are a waste of time. You can read that post HERE

It’s almost that time of year again: time to make your new year’s resolutions. Or not. It’s been nearly a year since I wrote my previous post on the fallacy of making resolutions for the upcoming year (see the link above), and I have to say that my opinion hasn’t changed. We’re still in December 2019 at the time of writing (December 17th to be precise) and I’m already hearing the rumbles of, “…that’s going to my new year’s resolution for 2020.”

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These people are, essentially, announcing that they will fail at upholding said resolutions. After all, if they haven’t got the resolve to quit something harmful RIGHT NOW, then their chances of succeeding in 2020 are slimmer than my chances of enjoying a threesome with Kate Upton and Kelly Brook. If they can’t stop doing something immediately, at the time of deciding on a resolution – because they need to get as many ‘hits’ of their particular vice(s) as possible between now and January 1st – then what realistic chance is there of suddenly ceasing in the new year and resisting for all of 2020 and beyond?

This aside, it’s also unrealistic to expect to quit something and be done with it forever. You ARE going to relapse. You ARE slip up. You ARE going to experience weakness and seek out a dosage of your chosen poison in order to satiate those insistent cravings. And as long as you are genuinely committed to changing and are tracking your progress, then there is no shame in this. It happens. If change or abstinance was as easy as making a resolution, clicking your fingers and suddenly being immune to temptation, then none of us would be facing our demons in the first place.

The problem with making a new year’s resolution is that, as soon as you slip up, you will feel like a complete failure. You were so firm about quitting whatever it was you wanted to be free of, and you proudly proclaimed your intentions to friends, family and co-workers. So when you stumble, and everybody sees it, the little set-back morphs into a major catastrophe. Friends might rib you for scoffing a chocolate bar – when you were supposed to be eating healthily – and, suddenly, your “failure” feels real and huge. You’ve failed so what’s the point in carrying on? May as well relapse back into your old ways because, evidently, you cannot succeed. There’s a monolithic neon sign, coated in flashing lights, hovering above your head that states: I HAVE FAILED. At least that’s what it feels like.

Perhaps you held out for the first few weeks of the new year or even a little while longer. Oh well, try again next January 1st, eh? Thing is, this isn’t how change works. Yes, you have to work hard at ditching bad habits and yes, you have to be truly committed to altering the aspects of your life that you aren’t happy with BUT faltering is part of the process. Pick yourself up and try again. Keep going. Analyse why you tripped up and learn from it. Were there any specific triggers or external influences that paved the way for your moment of weakness?

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An overused movie quote? 100%. Still absolute gold though.

New year’s resolutions are admirable in principle but I personally believe that they are actually counter-productive to genuine growth and change. They are an all-or-nothing desperado effort that place us under immense pressure to succeed or die trying. The new year takes on the form of a balls-hard level in one of those old-school arcade games that remorsely annihilated the player again and again, forcing them to keep feeding coins into the machine to continue playing. You are giving yourself one shot to hit that level and achieve a perfect run. Expecting to emerge victorious under such conditions is wishful thinking at best; downright foolish at worst.

And, unfortunately, this pressure we heap upon ourselves when setting our resolutions can make a small mistake feel like the absolute end. It exaggerates the reality of the situation and many will simply give up, telling themselves that they can’t do it.

Change is an ongoing, neverending process and you simply aren’t going to make it without faltering. As long as you are sincerely determined to get there and are legitimately trying, then there is no problem with “failing” every now and then. The only prerequisites I would add are:

  1. That you don’t use the inevitability of failure as an excuse or justification to intentionally plan a “day off” from your goal, purposely failing just so you can get a fix.
  2. That you learn from your slip-ups, analyse what went wrong and work on correcting behaviours or influences that may allow the same mistake to occur again.

And I can’t make a post about new year’s resolutions without mentioning those who announce their pledges via social media, purely because it’s a fashionable thing to do at this time of year, or because they want others to give them attention or ‘react’ to their status updates. Good luck with that.

If you’ve made it this far – and suffered through my waffle-y, poorly-structured post – then I’ll put you out of your misery reward you with the abridged version of the point I’m trying to make (the tl:dr edition, if you like). New year’s resolutions are bullshit because, if you are prepared to wait until a certain date to commence your efforts, then you aren’t serious about whatever it is. You don’t want it enough. Thus your chance of failure multiplies dramatically.

Don’t wait until January 1st. Start now.

 

New Year’s Resolutions are Bullshit

It’s been a while since I last posted but believe me when I say that I have a pre-planned list of topics jotted down that I intend to get around to over the coming weeks. Before I continue however, I want to say that I hope you all had a great Christmas. Unfortunately though, I’m here to lower the tone and drop a huge steaming turd on the head of the next annual ritual: New Year’s Resolutions.

They are complete bullshit for the simple reason that 95% of adopters (a figure I admittedly pulled from thin air rather than obtaining through painstaking research) have already set themselves up to fail at the same time they forged their resolutions. The simple reason for this is that they can’t be serious enough about changing if they can’t commit to making that change right there and then as opposed to waiting for January 1st to land.

It’s the same mindset as vowing to lay off alcohol after “just one more drink”, resolving to eat healthier (but only after one last, final blowout McDonalds) or promising to kick a porn addiction…but not until you’ve said farewell by watching one last compilation of hardcore deepthroat. Thing is, this “one for the road” mentality doesn’t speak of determination or true resolve. It is the sufferer still enslaved to their vice(s) and bound by invisible shackles to whatever the poison in question is. It is the the act of seeking a quick high by promising to change tomorrow and feeling good about yourself in the process while also getting one ‘last’ hit of the good bad stuff. For these people, it is always tomorrow…or the day after, or next week even. As long as it isn’t now. This is a lifestyle of never getting anything important or big done and constantly running/hiding from personal problems or demons. ‘Saving’ a problem to be the target of a New Year’s Resolution is simply an excuse; a way to avoid confronting it until the last possible moment. If you can’t face up to it now then where is the magical strength of the New Year gods going to suddenly come from on January 1st?

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[image from realbuzz.com]
The fact is, if you are actually serious about making a change and setting a resolution or two (or three) then you will stop right now and make that change. Waiting or delaying for whatever reason only proves that you aren’t mentally committed and that includes waiting around for that mysical date of 01/01.

It is important to remind ourselves that the concepts of time, dates and calendars are human creations designed by us as a species to complement Order and act as a form of measurement. This is all quite necessary BUT the flow of time is constant and so in reality there is absolutely no change between December 31st and January 1st other than some numbers that we attach to these days in order to understand where the fuck we currently are relative to the past and future. Strip all of this away and the daftness of waiting until January 1st 2019 to make a (potentially crucial) change in our lives is painfully stark. It is simply another day and to view it as special for any reason is pointless in reality. The act of making a New Year’s Resolution is purely symbolic and the problem with symbolism is that it doesn’t count for fuck all on an individual, personal level unless there is a genuinely impactful and powerful life-changing event behind it.

So no, I won’t be making any resolutions this year. Don’t get me wrong though: despite what I’ve just bashed out on the keyboard in this post in true preacher style, I have a HEAP of faults, flaws and life elements that I need to fix or improve. I eat too much crap, waste too much time on the internet, don’t put enough effort into my love life, watch too much porn, work an unstimulating job with non-ideal pay…the list could continue on into a thick notebook to be honest and it is the same for all of us. The point is that these are all things that I can constantly work on now and take personal responsibility for. Thinking that I will find sudden success by re-wording my problems into resolutions for 2019 is simply foolish.

New Year’s Resolutions also seem to take the form of cold turkey self-imposed bans on doing specific things and this too is a road to failure. After all, you crave what you aren’t allowed that much more and with nobody but yourself to be accountable to, a slip-up is inevitable. Problems have to be tackled one at a time and with an analytical approach that targets the roots, just like any good weed killer chemical.

I plan to discuss some of my own problems and how I am working on tackling them in upcoming posts. Maybe it will be useful for somebody else to read and I will no doubt learn much myself purely by putting my thoughts into words. One thing I AM clear on though is that New Year’s Resolutions are not the way to go about it.