The New Year’s Resolution Scam

New year’s is coming so of course I thought oh! New year’s resolutions are a FANTASTIC blog topic! Immediately after thinking it however, I realized how cliché and mundane that topic would be. Seriously?! New Year’s Resolutions….?! Some do ‘em some don’t. ‘I’ll cut out chocolate from my diet!’ ‘I’ll exercise everyday!’ ‘I’ll never argue with that mean person I always argue with.” blah, blah, blah. Most of the time the ones who do those resolutions don’t stick to them and the ones who don’t do them poke fun at the ones who do. We all know the drill, still, I like the New Year’s Resolution tradition to stick around, but it’s hard to take someone’s goal seriously if they call it a New Year’s Resolution. This post will explain why I like the concept of New Year’s Resolutions, but also why it sucks, and how to make the most of it.

Why is making New Year’s resolutions a good idea? Because making goals for yourself is good for you in general. Now I grew up home schooled – and if I learned nothing else I learned this; you are the one responsible for you and your life. Duh. Charity, everyone knows that. Well…no. I don’t think we all fully realize what being responsible for our life means. I often hear folks (and I’ve been in this crowd before) blaming their circumstances or other people for why their life isn’t the way they would want it. They aren’t as happy as they’d hope to be, as financially secure, as healthy, as fit, as creative, as adventurous, as content with life…

Usually there is a lot we can do, and we shouldn’t be waiting around wishing on fairy tales thinking some day our life will change. New Year’s resolutions, They are often ridiculous and often broken, but they are an attempt to better ourselves and take responsibility for what kind of person we want to be. That concept? That is super valuable, and worth continuing.

I make lists all the time, set goals for myself for this coming day, week, month, year, or even years… If you don’t already, I encourage you to think about what you want your life to look like down the road. Think 5, 10, or even 20 years. What does your life look like? My next question for you is this; are your actions today- the stuff you spend hours of your time on, is it getting you any closer to your long term goals? Sure, those lists I make, I don’t always go back and check those boxes but it does keep me focused, and thinking about the big picture.

I AM guilty of making New Year’s resolutions. Usually it’s a long lists of things I want to do better. This past year’s (2017) resolution was centered around one word. I ditched the long list for once and decided on this word – Intentional. For me, that meant  that every minute I spend should be with intent and line up with who I want to be.  Every choice I make should be designed to challenge myself and push me to be the best I can be. This year so much has transpired, and so many choices made. For one, I moved from small town Pennsylvania to the D.C area and took a job working for a startup to hone my business skills. That was a crazy leap of faith for me, but I was ready and I honestly felt like I was running out of lessons to learn in that stage of life. Currently this new culture is bringing in a new set of challenges that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I’m usually not one to re-read a book, but in high school one of my favorite books – in audio book format (book, audio book, what’s the difference?) The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. There is a part in that book where Franklin, being someone who was constantly looking for more efficient ways of living, tried to come up with a road map for perfection (not one of his brightest notions). His idea was to make a plan that anyone, no matter what religion, that they could follow and use to achieve perfection. He created a list of things he believed worth changing. Franklin was known as a chatter, one always willing to state his opinion, so he made his first resolution to only say the important stuff, only say stuff that would be edifying and necessary.

Just like most resolutions, he failed miserably. He wanted to uphold one new habit for 2 weeks (or a similar time frame) and then take on the next thing while still upholding the first- and so on and so forth. Each time he made a mistake he would start again from scratch. He never completed the first 2 weeks, because he would always slip up. His conclusion from the experiment was, nobody could be perfect. There’s no magical trick to getting rid of all your bad habits or negative human tendencies. Another interesting point he made is that the hardest trait to fully adopt would be humility – for if you could bring yourself to be fully humble you would be proud of being humble. So pride would still be your downfall. His conclusion with the whole experiment though was that although he couldn’t fully cure himself of that habit of chatting what he dubbed as too much – he did get better at speech and a little more purposeful in what he said. So he was thankful for the experiment.

All that to say that I agree that no one can be perfect but realistic resolutions really do help you. It’s not a once a year thing or once every life crisis thing… it should be a lifestyle of change. You should be working to be who you think you should be. Not looking at some celebrity or mentor like they’re all that, but seeing that we all have our weaknesses and strengths and learning from both. Recognize that no one is perfect and just work on improvement.

New Year’s Resolutions? In general they’re a symbol of silly goals that you hardly mean to keep anyway. Goals, and plans? Those aren’t silly, they help you be the person you want to be. I’ve seen too many people who envy others for what they have instead of learning from that person’s success. As cliché as it sounds, you can be whoever you want to be (within reason, like you can’t be a unicorn but that’s a topic for another day) it just takes a lot of hard work.

My new year’s resolution? I guess you could say it’s the same as last year and these past few years. When I see something unhealthy or toxic in my life, change it. Keep making goals, trying to follow them and succeeding or not. Keeping my future in mind when I spend my time and always staying intentional with my life. Don’t pass up opportunities to learn and grow and treat others the way you want to be treated. Ummmm… Charity I thought you said New Year’s Resolutions are silly and no one sticks to them? And now you’re making this long one? Calm down. No, it’s really not that long. Basically just staying intentional with my life. Plain and simple. Also? That’s not a New Years Resolution, it’s a life resolution, and I’m sticking to it as best as this imperfect person can.

Are New Year’s Resolutions a scam? If you aren’t used to following simple goals for your daily routine or week, how can you keep a resolution for a whole freak’n year?!  Start small and with some kind of idea of who you want to be long term. Than work towards it one step at a time- or as the old adage says, 2 steps forward and 1 back. New Year’s Resolutions aren’t bad in it of themselves but the stigma around them isn’t the best. Go ahead and make one, Just don’t be one of those people who just spit out some superficial mumbo jumbo about how this year you are gonna do life right and then just ditch it all when you slip up once. What?! If you make a New Year’s Resolution make it something attainable, measurable and rewarding. And if you fall down, get back up. Silly.