Why your New Year’s resolutions will fail again
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
Most of us make some form of New Year’s resolution. Maybe it’s a solid list of goals, maybe it’s just a vague Facebook status about having a positive, better year than before. For the first few weeks, we may even try to implement those goals by making changes in our routines. There’s a reason why gyms are crowded in January—and there’s also a reason why the gyms are back to normal capacity right after. In fact, the cliché of breaking New Year’s resolutions is almost as popular as making them. So what goes wrong? Why does everyone inevitably fail themselves?
Setting goals for ourselves is hard. Even when the goals follow the SMART pattern often taught in goal-setting exercises (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) it’s difficult to follow through with them, unless you happen to be a very goal-oriented person. And the vast majority of people—particularly those under 30—are not.
Permanent lifestyle changes are difficult to imagine, let alone implement. A new year has no actual meaning besides the symbolic; nothing has changed except the passage of time. You are the exact same person you were the day before, and having a goal for the sake of having a goal isn’t enough. To make the resolutions, you have to really want to do it for your own sake and not just because it’s a new page on the calendar.
Seasons can have a slight effect on the failure of goals. December is a month of celebrating, usually with dinners, parties, and relaxation; time is spent away from school and work. January is when the cold status quo returns. Returning to school and work can be overwhelming and stressful, leaving you to cope in whatever way you usually do: the same things you did before the holidays, with no resolutions in place.
Most New Year’s resolutions are made for the sake of the new year. Goal setting is important and can actually be achieved (the SMART pattern really does do wonders), but it’s fundamentally important that you really want to achieve your goal. Take all the New Year factors out. If you want something, you’ll have to genuinely do the work needed to get it. This is true for everything in life. If you aren’t willing to do it, that’s okay. But it’s important to be honest with yourself. Are your resolutions actually about making significant changes to your life that you’ve been needing for a significant amount of time? Or are they wishful thoughts during that relaxing period between Christmas and January 1?