New Year’s Resolutions: A Tradition of Delusion?

It’s that time of year again. The Earth is making another revolution around the sun and we, as a species, are the only organisms on the planet to make resolutions – promises to ourselves that, we believe, we’ll hold firm to throughout the year

Like most people, I make them year after year, and I’m not proud to say that the farthest I’ve gotten to sticking to my personal promise has been the third week in January.  I am usually full of resolve and certain I can accomplish whatever resolution I’ve made. Each year, I fail miserably. I shoot out of the gate with all the verve and gusto of an agile greyhound, but soon peter out, my tail tucked between my legs and head bowed in disgust. This tradition of resolutions takes its annual pop-shot at my ego

And, I know I’m not alone.

 My question remains: Are we living in a perpetual state of delusion?

 How come, time and time again, we set ourselves up for failure?

 Though we all have the best intentions, research shows that only a small percentage of those making resolutions can actually stick to them. Our habits are so ingrained that making and sustaining change is a very difficult task. Experts say that for most of us, any resolution will be nearly impossible to keep unless we place ourselves in a supportive environment, one that is constantly reinforcing the changes we are seeking to make.

 Resolutions are all about making choices. And, these choices to make alterations to our habits are just not easy to do alone. Forming groups or finding a supportive network certainly helps with the sticking power.  Since choices are based on emotion, having a support staff reinforces our determination. It also makes us feel a sense of accomplishment when others recognize our efforts. A certain level of accountability prevents us from back-sliding into old ways.

 Another point that experts make is that we must be patient with ourselves. Making changes takes time and effort. We all know some things are easier said than done, but if we fall off the wagon, the best recourse is to dust ourselves off and try again. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for continuity. One step forward, two back sure beats throwing in the towel altogether.

Below are three of the most common New Year’s resolutions that people make. Do any resonate with you? 

Losing Weight and get Healthier. This may be the number one resolution for most people, especially after all the eating and drinking that goes on between Thanksgiving and New Years. Believe me, I’ve enjoyed every opportunity to sip wine or champagne and sample every canapé or hors d’oeuvre that crossed my field of vision.  Come the 1st of January, most of us are horrified by what we see on the scale and how our waistband feels.  This is the time most of us get the motivation to hit the treadmill and start tossing weights around.  Many gyms and health spas see memberships increase exponentially right after the first of the year.

Getting Organized. January 1st marks a new beginning and many people take this time to apply that status to their lives.  We take inventory of the past year and feel that we can tackle the upcoming year with more organization.  Whether it be closets, work spaces, schedules, or timelines, decluttering is synonymous with the New Year.

Finding Balance. Usually by the end of the year we feel somewhat discombobulated and utterly exhausted.  This is the moment when we perform a review of the past year, analyzing how we spent our time and energy.  This reflection may show us how imbalanced our attentions have been.   We might conclude that we spent way too much time in front of the television binge watching our favorite reality shows, or surfing through a web of social media nonsense. Perhaps we feel a tinge of regret not giving that same kind of attention to our family or, for some, not giving ourselves enough “me-time”.

Whatever resolution(s) you’re making, the best advice is to take it slow, don’t beat yourself up, and don’t live in an all-or-nothing world. I suppose that is why there is wisdom is the old adage: Try, try, and try, again.

Good luck and let’s make 2018 a great one!

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