I’m far from being a perfect person (trust me, there are thousands of things that I could do better), but I’m too good to get caught up in the ridiculous hype of making New Year’s resolutions. To put it bluntly, the resolution idea is completely asinine. When I was younger my parents forced me to make resolutions every year, and I absolutely hated it. How many things can a middle school kid resolve to do better other than get better grades, keep the bedroom clean, and do more chores? Why did they burden me with this idiocy? Now that I’m an adult, I truly realize and appreciate the stupidity of this tradition. Generally, resolutions are either a good behavior or lifestyle decision that people want to do more of, or a destructive habit or vice that people want to eliminate from their lives. For example, people often make a resolution to volunteer more frequently in the year to come. I think that is a fantastic idea because there will always be less fortunate people whom we can assist in a non-financial manner. The stupid part is that by waiting for the clock to strike midnight on December 31st, we’ve wasted ample time to volunteer our time and services. There are countless charities that need help during the holiday season folding clothes, wrapping and delivering gifts, and chaperoning youth Christmas carolers. Why not strike while the iron is hot near the end of November and carry that volunteering momentum into the upcoming year instead of waiting for the magical first day of January? Besides, January 1st is a holiday, so is anyone really going to volunteer that day? We’ve essentially wasted a month of volunteering time just so we could say we started something the following year. Another example of a popular resolution is to stop smoking. Do you have to wait until January 1st because you plan on smoking a whole carton during that New Year’s Eve party? People generally stop smoking because it’s an expensive habit that can produce very deleterious health effects. If you’re really concerned about that stroke, heart attack, or lung cancer risk, maybe you should stop smoking as soon as possible instead of waiting those 2 more months for a “fresh start in the New Year.” Besides, most people who try to quit smoking relapse, so it’s better to start early and not prolong the cessation plan.
I think it’s admirable when people decide to improve their (and other’s) lives by volunteering more, starting to recycle, quitting smoking/drinking, and losing weight. The problem is that when the improvement is made into a resolution, instead of a lifestyle change, it usually fails. Recent studies show that long term success rates of resolutions is no higher than 20%. That’s not a surprise if one thinks how difficult it is to stop addictive behaviors and/or lose weight. For those who have ever had a gym membership, what’s the usual pattern? The place is so packed in January and February that you can’t even find a machine or weight to work with. By March and April people become disinterested because they haven’t seen any results, get too lazy to go to the gym every day, and/or lose focus. The next step is to give up on the resolution…only to put that same item on the list the next year. People generally fail the weight loss resolution because it requires lots of time working out, maintaining healthy eating habits daily, and lots of patience. Most people don’t attain those things between December 31st and January 1st. People fail the smoking/alcohol/illegal drug cessation resolution because their bodies are physically and psychologically addicted. Most people don’t attain substance abuse rehabilitation skills right before the ball drops in Manhattan.
No matter how you slice it, New Year’s Resolutions are severely ill timed, usually too difficult to achieve, and usually always fail. Why don’t we scrap this tradition entirely and maybe adopt some tenets from Festivus like the airing of grievances? I guarantee there’ll be a success rate much higher than 20%, and it will keep people from posting their resolutions on Facebook for all of us to collectively ignore.