A new year is less than a week away. A new year means new goals and millions of new yearís resolutions, most of which we all know are unreasonable and doomed to fail before they begin. Others might last for a few days, even weeks in some instances, but the majority will never come to fruition for one simple reason: resolutions are hard to keep.
Working toward a new yearís resolution is a long road paved by gym memberships, unread books, and boxes full of unused nicotine patches. The problem is that people think they are like a light switch; that they can change their health patterns, mind sets and daily rituals at the blink of an eye. Itís not an impossible task, mind you, but letís not sugar coat the likelihood. For most people, resolutions are made to be broken. Itís a dumb age-old tradition they follow with the hope of bettering themselves but ultimately, they fall short.
Of course this isnít to say new yearís resolutions are a bad thing. Most of them are made with good intent (few people vow to gain weight, smoke more and kick the nasty habit of reading too much). Certainly thereís nothing wrong with self-improvement, but ďimprovingĒ overnight might be something to consider and unfortunately, careful planning and consideration is a technicality when it comes to new yearís resolutions. We all know that a majority of resolutions are made on a last-minute whim, propelled by peer pressure and alcohol on new yearís eve.
That said, I havenít made any resolutions of my own this year, mainly because I know myself well enough to say I wouldnít keep them. In 2010, I vowed to take up a new hobby of amateur woodworking. Now, I have three unfinished projects in storage and a whole lot of nails and wood glue taking up valuable space in my one bedroom apartment. And in 2009, I vowed to eat healthier foods ... I microwaved a can of spaghettios for lunch on January 2nd.
Not only do I break my resolutions year after year, I tend to move in the opposite direction. Last year, I said would drink less coffee. Today, Iím drinking my third cup even as I write this column (up from the usual two cups when I made my resolution). I also said I would pay off a good chunk of my student loan debt. Instead, I took another loan to pay for graduate courses in the fall.
Thankfully, Iím not alone in this boat of self-loathing and resolution failure. Iím joined by nearly 150 million other Americans who make and break resolutions every year, most by the end of January. This cumulation of failures is one of the leading factors that make up Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year (and in case youíre one of the upbeat, well-wishing, blind optimists who always sees a silver lining, let me explain what Blue Monday is. Blue Monday occurs on the Monday of the last full week in January, when resolutions begin to fail, daylight savings time and shorter days leads to seasonal depression, and holiday debt begins to catch up. Thereís even a scientific formula to determine when Blue Monday is, which in itself is somewhat depressing).
Perhaps what bothers me most about new yearís resolutions is that each one has the ďstarting MondayĒ framework. That is, resolutions start on the first of the year, no later and be damned if itís sooner. Iím going on a diet, starting Monday. Iíll quit smoking, starting Monday. Iíll be a kinder person, starting Monday. Iíll start flossing, starting Monday. Weíre a society of procrastinators that put off until tomorrow what we could do today.
So why do we make resolutions year after year, even when theyíre destined to fail? We already survived the Mayan Apocalypse, shouldnít that be achievement enough this year? Apparently not. Making new yearís resolutions hasnít tapered, even in the face of inevitable failure. So if and when you make your new yearís resolution, remember the words of the famed philosopher Homer Simpson: ďTrying is the first step to failure.Ē Good luck.