Dropping the Ball on New Year’s Resolutions

New Year. New beginnings. New resolutions. It’s a time to start over… or so we think. With 2012 just around the corner, the usual time for professing our same old resolutions has come. The last night of December is filled with classic New Year’s traditions: watching the ball drop, counting down the seconds before the next year starts and declaring our typical New Year’s resolutions.

Every year, people attempt to achieve the same goals, some of the more popular ones including getting better grades, losing weight and trimming bad habits. Most people fail when it comes to following through with these resolutions. Statistics indicate that 40 to 45 percent of American adults make at least one New Year’s Resolution every year. However, after the first week, a quarter of those people drop out, with less than half achieving their goal after six months. Statistics aside, I personally don’t know anyone who could say that they’ve managed to maintain a successful resolution, including myself.

It’s always the same routine: 1. Make resolutions. 2. Fail to remember them. 3. Remember them, but then give up on them. 4. Repeat the next year.

And yet, I, along with everyone else, still make New Year’s resolutions, commitments that are bound to be broken. To justify this, I admit there’s a comforting feel that comes with a new year, one that suggests that maybe this year will be different from the last. However, it wasn’t too long into 2011 that I realized it did not differ too much from 2010.

For example, my resolution for 2011 was a common, seemingly simple one: to stop procrastinating. I reasoned that all it took was a will to refrain from watching T.V. or scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, which I mistakenly assumed was easy enough. It comes as no surprise that by the time I returned from break and started school, I found myself in the same dilemma I was in before I set the resolution. The fact that 2011 was supposed to be the different year, that I was actually supposed to follow through with my New Year’s Resolutions didn’t even occur to me until a couple weeks later when I was reminded of them.

The problem with the New Year’s resolutions is that no one actually knows how to keep the commitment. Naturally, I turned to Google for advice. A multitude of websites surfaced with the overall same, cliché tidbits of advice: keep the goal simple and realistic, while keeping your attitude motivated and patient.

I was disappointed, admittedly in part due to the fact that Google had failed me for the first time. But also because it was ironically unrealistic advice like this that made New Year’s resolutions so impossible in the first place. Not to sound pessimistic, but if New Year’s resolutions are always going to fail, and if we continue to use the same, unsuccessful strategy to deal with them, perhaps it would be better if we didn’t have them in the first place.

I blame the failure of New Year’s resolutions to their transient novelty, which wears off quite quickly when we’re actually confronted with the problems our resolutions are supposed to address. So this year, when making your resolution, if you decide to do so, be prepared to be disappointed, but like last year, keep calm and carry on.

– Amy