Why I Hate New Years Resolutions

New Years Eve Resolutions

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

It’s a new year!

A new year is viewed as a type of mini-rebirth. It’s a chance to leave the bad things of the last year in the past and recommit yourself to becoming a better person. It’s the time to think about the person you want to become, where you are headed and ensure that you are on the right path. It’s truly a magical time of year.

The new year is the year you …

  • Will lose the 15 pounds you made a goal about 3 years ago
  • Make the career switch to a new industry and get yourself the increase in compensation you deserve
  • Find the type of love you deserve by taking the search more seriously than in the past

Right …

Is the New Year really important?

Why do so many people assign all these special powers to the new year? What is it about a new year, when compared to the old year, that makes things so different and will cause all these goals to be accomplished?

That wasn’t rhetorical. I’d love an answer.

What makes January 1st so much better to start working out compared to December 20th when you had the idea to set the resolution? Is this special power worth the days sacrificed while waiting?

I understand the importance of setting a timeline. Just giving yourself a start date, a measurable outcome, and an end date will significantly increase your chance of success. If you are able to give yourself a year timeline for a goal and it’s convenient to use Jan 1st, makes sense.

Instead, you see countless examples of people getting very excited about crushing the new year. They create an Instagram post with a cute image of them overlooking a cliff. The description talks about putting the old year in the past and how the new year is in front of them. “Leaving 2017 in the dust and preparing my life for the blessings of 2018”.

OK …

I am all for doing better, learning from mistakes, and improving myself. I don’t think this process can be contained to once a year and I don’t understand what makes Jan 1 the official day of rebirth.

So, what do you do then?

For me, every day is my New Years Day.

I strive every morning to learn from the mistakes of the previous day and make this day better. Every week, I do the same and spend a little more time going deeper in what I need to do and what I learned. I’m definitely not perfect, but I work hard to make this self-reflection and adjustment a regular thing. It’s important to constantly be improving and it’s easier. It’s great to say you are going to completely revamp your life at one time, but much more realistic to chip away at it through constant small improvements.

My question to those who love New Years Resolutions is: what stopped you from deciding to be great the other 364 days of the year?

The important thing is identifying something you want to achieve and succeed at, committing yourself to doing something about it, coming up with some type of plan, and actually doing it. Doesn’t matter if it’s April Fool’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, or just June 4th. It’s the action of self-improvement that’s important, not what you call it or which day of the year.

Eh. What’s the harm in New Year’s Resolutions then?

New Year’s resolutions really make a joke of the work and commitment needed to improve. It turns trying to become better into simple lip service you can make you feel good about at the beginning of the year and then you can joke about later when you don’t accomplish it.

Let’s fast forward to February 1st, 2018. There will be a slew of people who have already failed to go to the gym, read a book, start a business, or [insert other “I’m gonna get my life right” resolution people post online] or even take the first step.

These type of setbacks are common in setting a new goal. They happen. The important thing is to push through them and continue putting in work.

Instead, too many people take the “oh well, another failed resolution” pass. They talk to their friends and joke about how they have collectively failed to make any real progress. They revel in their failure. There is an accepted practice of shirking off all these goals and going back to doing things the same. I can’t think of any other time we actually get supportive in collectively failing to do something.

And that is my ultimate beef with New Years Resolution. It promotes a shallow relationship between goals and ambitions. It’s sad.

Just Commit to Doing Great Things

Instead of using the increment in the year counter to push you to do better … just strive to do better. There isn’t anything special about Jan 1 when it comes to achieving goals (actually, there is … it’s a horrible day to set them) so just make this a habit and don’t place emphasis on an arbitrary date.

I gave up New Year’s resolutions years ago and I honestly think my life has been significantly improved because of it. If you already came up with a list of how you will crush 2018 … don’t call them New Year resolutions. Just write them down and call them goals. Ignore the date and focus on getting them done. Removing the “resolutions” label will make it harder to easily abandon them and revel in your failure.


Originally published at Damien Peters.

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