An outline on why we should not wait until a New Year to have resolutions.
It is Dec. 30. You finally decide that it is time to take out a pencil and a piece of paper, or in the twenty-first century an iPhone and start jotting down some ideas for your New Year’s resolutions.
Lose weight. Read my Bible. Go to bed earlier. Eat healthier. Give up bad habits.
These are all common resolutions that once a year some of us are determined to make.
Theresa Fisher, writer for Mic, claims that January “is officially the busiest time of year in gyms across the country… [but] if history is any indication, they’ll ditch their newfound fitness regimen by mid-February.”
If most people are bound to either fail or give up on their New Year’s Resolutions within the first month of the year, then why are expectations set so high and what can be done about it?
Once Americans begin to lower their expectations, accepting that Jan. 1 represents nothing but a day on a calendar and that there is a constant need to be improving, New Year’s Resolutions will be turning into New You Resolutions.
One of the most confusing things about resolutions is how high people set their expectations. After not attending a gym for four years, what are the odds that every day this year you will wake up at 5 a.m. to go workout?
Slim. To. None.
People set expectations as if they are going to be a new person when they wake up the next day, as though Jan. 1 means anything different than Dec. 10 or any other day of the year. It is much harder to follow through with an unrealistic expectation than it is to set a goal that is achievable. Why set a goal for going to the gym everyday instead of starting with two or three times a week?
Not setting yourself up for future success is a guaranteed way to ensure that you fail. A simple reality needs to be realized: people do not change overnight. Once the first week of motivation is gone, resolutions go by the wayside one at a time. Because of this, another year passes by that people are let down by themselves—the worst kind of failure.
Not only are people’s goals too large but they tend to be too broad—just a large unmeasurable and unspecified amount of change that will occur. It is hard to follow through with these types of goals. Goals need to be both specific and meaningful to give you a better life.
According to Jeff Haden, an editor at Inc. Magazine, “the key is to create a process that guarantees a series of small improvements.”
It is not so much about the goal itself but about creating a pathway and a plan that can be carried out to achieve the goal. It is so much easier to hold yourself accountable when there is an actual plan. The alternative to setting a plan is “winging it,” which makes it easy to cheat on, because there is nothing to hold you accountable. The first important thing to realize with New Year’s resolutions is that they need to be achievable.
Another absurd thing about the New Year is that everyone makes it a big deal; it is literally a day on a calendar like any other. It’s slightly restricting that we can’t improve a day or a week before the new year. Every day is a new 24 hours, a new 1,440 minutes, a new 86,400 seconds and for some reason, people must wait until midnight on Jan. 1 to begin changing.
Why is it that people should continue living lives that they have already deemed unfulfilling for the remainder of the year just because society believes that a new year is a good time to start reflecting? In reflecting and creating New Year’s resolutions, people are deciding that they are not perfect and there are things that they wish would change or that they are going to seek to improve. If that is the case, it doesn’t make any sense to continue suffering in those shortcomings until a specific time or date.
Jan. 1 feels like a fresh start, and therefore it makes it easier to begin. People prefer to start on a Monday rather than a Thursday, or a new month rather than Jan. 17. But if you know what you want to change, start now before the seconds on the clock have all run out. Life is short, and people should constantly be seeking to improve themselves, not just when the clock strikes Jan. 1. This world is so volatile and fast-paced that there is no time to waste when it comes to becoming a better person.
From a Christian point of view, this is even more important. Every second Christians should be striving to be like Christ. The Bible says in Philippians 2:5 “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Jesus also calls on his people in the sermon on the mount to be perfect as God is. Christians are not called to find what to work on and then to wait to fix the problem until a specific moment in time, but to constantly be seeking to be as Christ-like as possible.
Resolutions are not a blatantly bad thing. To recognize flaws and seek improvement is a natural and healthy thing for every human to do. To wait, however, for the perfect moment or time to change is fruitless. The timing will never be right, there will always be an excuse and something will always be holding you back.
Do your future self a favor and get rid of today’s excuses.
Start now. Right now. Before it is too late.