Why New Year’s resolutions are delusional

Christmas is all wrapped up and New Year’s Eve is around the corner. Partygoers are stocking up on cheap champagne, sparkly top hats and tacky sunglasses that read 2016. 

Meanwhile, I’m sitting at home, simply not caring about this holiday. Why? Number one: time is imaginary. Two: I’m so tired of letting myself down every year by failing every single resolution I’ve ever made for myself. 

You see, I despise New Year’s because it is a constant reminder of how little I actually accomplished this past year. It is a kick in the ribs while I’m down. It’s a giant middle finger in my face, screaming at me for procrastinating and being a lazy bag of garbage. You probably think I’m being too hard on myself, or on the flip side, maybe you see a bit of yourself in me. 

I wasn’t always Scrooge McDuck about NYE. In fact, I used to love it! I used to see it as a fresh start, a new year, a new me. Clearly I was indoctrinated by media propaganda B.S. 

Every Christmas as I unbuttoned my pants and threw myself a mini pity party for gorging myself on turkey, wine, stuffing, wine, mashed potatoes, wine, plus dessert … and more wine, I’d decide it’s finally time to make a positive change in my life. 

“New Year’s!” I’d think to myself, “New Year’s will be the perfect time to finally get my life on track.” I’d bust out a pen and piece of paper and record all of the things that I need to change in order to be happy: 

  1. Lose 15-80 pounds
  2. Pay off all my debt 
  3. Travel more
  4. Fall in love
  5. Become successful

I am either the most optimistic person on the planet, or utterly delusional. My resolutions were totally unobtainable because they were unrealistic. My goals were always vague and meaningless. Sure, the intentions were good, but I never gave myself enough time to actually resolve these resolutions. One year isn’t enough time to “become successful” and it is certainly not enough time to pay off all my student and credit debt while travelling. New Year’s resolutions are differences that people want to see in the New Year but letting go of resolutions and standards are the only thing that Caitlin Clow has in mind for 2016.
Photo by Arsenikk via Flickr creative commons license

I’m not alone on setting the resolution of getting back into shape. In fact, Details.com states that more than 66 per cent of resolvers have “get fit” on their list. We’ve all seen it: once Jan. 2 hits gyms are swollen with sweaty, hung over, New Year’s keeners trying their hardest to stay ahead of their resolutions. But, Details.com also found that one in three bail on their resolutions by the end of January. People may blame their busy schedule or their lack of commitment to the goals they set in the first place, but I blame the fact that change can’t be made instantaneously. 

Drastic lifestyle changes such as implementing a new diet or fitness regimen or a new budget are difficult to jump into headfirst. It’s a goddamn Polar Bear plunge; nobody can last too long in those conditions. Lifestyle changes are the time to first dip the toe and test the waters.  

Once I realized this and popped my optimistic bubble about NYE resolutions I felt totally liberated! Why should I make unrealistic goals and set myself up for failure, disappointment and self-loathing? There is no winning here. Instead, each year I make one resolution on New Year’s Eve: focus on each day as it comes and live in the moment. 

That sounds a bit “new agey,” I know, but since I’ve started making that one resolution I haven’t failed. I haven’t been left disappointed when the ball drops at midnight and now I’m the one giving NYE a giant middle finger. 

I’ve taken control of my goals and personal resolutions on a day-by-day basis and I’m finding them easier to manage and ultimately accomplish. If there is something that I really want to accomplish, I no longer put a 12-month time limit on it. I just work on it each day until it’s done. 

I have found that since I made that one resolution I focus on things that actually matter: relationships with family and friends, sharing laughs and stories, creating and learning new things, eating delicious foods with the occasional indulgence, and truly enjoying and cherishing each moment that I’ve been given — all guilt free.  

So this New Year’s Eve, instead of kicking yourself for not accomplishing your unrealistic resolutions from 2015, focus on what you did get done. You made solid memories with family and friends, and maybe you learned how to cook an amazing meal, maybe you met the perfect match, or maybe you watched a butt load of Netflix. Maybe you read a book for fun, maybe you took in some excellent shows, but you definitely made the best of the last 365 days. 

cclow@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Jesse Buchholz, jbuchholz@cjournal.ca