Resolve your resultless resolutions
New year’s resolutions are an epidemic. They’re disappointingly absolute, lack regard for a world in where variables… well, vary faster than ever, and frequently stem from misinformed perceptions of what we must do to be like someone else. Here’s a different tack.
The nature of the groan
Just about this time every year, if you were to live with me, you would find that the frequency with which I groan during my consumption of mass media escalates at an alarming rate. And every year, the reason would be the same: the onset of New year’s resolutions, which I measure on scale with biblical plagues.
It’s not that I mind the essence of resolutions, which are defined as firm decisions to do or not do something. Rather, I mind the twisted, tabloid versions of them which litter our society and would make it seem as if a few things matter more than anything: bodily health (cut the flab and fags), a picture-perfect family, a social life out of Kim Kardashian’s playbook and a blazing path towards the top of the career ladder, to name a few.
Did you ever stop to notice that these things – and countless other variations upon this theme – have one thing in common? Go on, look at them again, and see if you can find the common denominator. If you get the answer right, you can pat yourself on the back: we’re so immersed in this nonsense that we hardly ever stop to notice the pattern.
The answer? They’re all external.
What’s inside matters more
Have you ever heard someone make a New year’s resolution to simply feel better? Hardly. Which, in a word, is sad. A human being in the Western world can expect an average life span of, say, eighty years or so, and how we feel is paramount to our existence – and still we can’t bring ourselves to feature feeling better even on a top 10 list of some sort for what should be our focus for the next eightieth of our life?
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for improvement – but not if the yield isn’t worth the effort. If what you set out to do doesn’t end up making you happy, abort. If you’re getting that six-pack but have to live on oatmeal porridge and barley soup, is it worth it? If you get that promotion but have to work 60-hour weeks, is it worth it? If you get that picture-perfect family where everything looks great on the outside but nobody dares to really talk to one another out of fear for ruining expectations, is it worth it?
Everyone is entitled to their resolutions – but my argument is simple: enjoying the journey is as important as the enjoying the destination.
A different tack
If you’ve made resolutions before and haven’t achieved them, here’s a 3-point checklist of how to go about it that might just beat the methods you’ve applied previously. Just promise me this: don’t lie when you answer.
- Are your resolutions really your resolutions, bourne of your desires, and wrought to improve your life and the lives of others close to you?
- Are you in complete control of what’s on your plate, so as to ensure your resolutions match your general priorities in life?
- Are your resolutions important enough for you to make you willing to fail for then to start anew until you have succeeded?
The merits of momentum
Last, but not least: stop for a moment. Smell the roses. Exhale slowly. Smell them again. Take a look around, and value what you have. Then, remember the following: maintaining your status quo is an achievement in and of itself. Just imagine what happens if the person rowing the boat stops rowing.