Do We Need to Make a New Year’s Resolution?

Today is New Year’s Eve and if you haven’t decided on any resolutions for 2016, should you even try?

Many people set fantastic resolutions for the new year. But in reality, how many of us actually achieve them before the next year begins? Think about your goals from the start of 2015… how many of those goals can you confidently say you achieved? I achieved one of my goals. ONE. I had about fifteen resolutions I had hoped to check off my list before the end of December. I can give you every excuse in the book as to why those resolutions were not achieved, but that doesn’t change anything. They were not completed.

The way in which I set these goals was not exactly picture perfect. I set goals in a perfunctory manner because a New Year’s resolution was something I assumed was necessary. Think about it: When you begin a conversation with someone around this time of year, how often are you asked, “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” Not only do I hear the question, but I ask it too! The question I despise answering is one I ask others all the time. Why is that?

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A New Year’s resolution is SO ingrained in our (The United States) culture, that others would find it odd if you have not chosen one before 2016 arrives. Let’s face the facts here, folks… the arrival of 2016 will not wipe my slate clean. Things I have done in the past will always be a part of me, so why do people say I get a clean start once the new year arrives?

Is this what a New Year’s resolution is all about? Well, in order to find out what it truly means to make a New Year’s resolution, I conducted a convenience survey through Survey Money. I needed to determine WHY people insist on participating in this “tradition” each new year. The questions asked for the participant’s age, if they made a resolution for 2015, if they plan to make a resolution for 2016, and why they choose to (or choose not to) make resolutions each year. The results can be found below:

Untitled Report

I had 35 responses from this survey and almost every person (in more words or less) said one of two things: “I do it to motivate myself” or “I think it is a load of crap.” Hmm, that goes from one extreme to the other, haha. One of my favorite responses was, “It provides me with hope.” That one sentence says a lot, don’t you think?

By definition, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain “thing” to happen. That makes sense to me. With that definition, making a New Year’s resolution seems less cliche. I think the act of making a resolution isn’t cliche it’s the resolutions themselves that are cliche.

I don’t think you can get more cliche than the classic, “I want to lose weight.” In all honesty, don’t you think that if a person wanted to lose weight, they could set that goal at any point in the year? Why now? Why when the New Year begins? Because of hope? Sounds like hooey to me.

Although I agree that a New Year’s resolution may provide a person with hope, I do not think it is the New Year that does it. At any point and time in a person’s life, they can be provided with hope by simply setting a goal. Any goal at all works. Want to lose weight? That’s cool, why not start when the New Year is over and you aren’t hungover or exhausted from staying up so late. Interested in becoming more organized? Spring cleaning seems like a better start date to me. Not immediately following the holidays when your home is flooded with presents, decorations, and other crap. Are you getting my point? Or am I just rambling on and on?

I will put it as simple as possible. A New Year’s resolution isn’t the answer. Setting goals for life is the answer. January 1st does not wipe your slate clean and it doesn’t make you magically more motivated than yesterday. Consider the New Year as an opportunity to REFLECT. Instead of a clean slate, the New Year is a perfect time for reflection. At the end of each year, look at what went well, what did not go well, and what remained the same. Use what you observe and set goals accordingly.

Your goals do not need to be set exactly on Jan. 1. Your goals do not have to be achieved by Dec. 31 of that new year. Set goals according to your lifestyle and needs. If all went well last year, why make changes? Instead of goals to change, make goals to remain as happy as you were the previous year.  Allow yourself time to assess your previous year and plan your new year. I promise that the resolution police will not hunt you down.

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