New Year’s resolutions? You can keep ‘em!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

keep your resolutions‘Have you ever made any New Year’s resolutions?’ I presented this question to my husband recently over breakfast. ‘Hm?’ he replied, not deigning to look up from his iPad. ‘You know,’ I persisted, ‘goals for the year, positive changes you’d like to make in your life, et cetera.’

Now he looked up at me with a furrowed brow, deeply suspicious. ‘Never. Load of rubbish. Why? Have YOU?’ It was more of an accusation than a question.

And here I paused. Did I have any? I mean, I certainly have goals for my life, but they’re not neatly filed under the categories ‘Short Term’, ‘Long Term’ and ‘One Can Dream’. I don’t have a five-year plan. I don’t even have a five-hour plan. Of course there are certain things I’d like to change in my life ¬– the usual culprits: drinking less wine and exercising more, and also wasting less food – but they’re sort of ongoing self-improvement projects. I’m afraid I simply cannot get my head around the idea of saying to oneself, ‘Right. Henceforth – it being the first day of the new calendar year – I shall always/no longer (insert modified behaviour of choice here).’

I mean, if you’re going to quit smoking, why not do it RIGHT NOW? If you want to lose weight, change your eating habits NOW. Why put off till the 1st January what you can do today?

What irks me about the whole concept is that it almost seems spring-loaded for failure. I understand there is something auspicious about making a profound, life-enhancing change in your life, but if you really are serious about stubbing out that cigarette forever, or whatever, are you really going to wait until the stroke of midnight on 31/12? What if it’s July? Do you have to put off the benefits of a healthier diet for six months?

No, I suspect that the idea of the New Year’s resolution appeals to the kind of people who are, in fact, not quite ready to alter their behaviour in a meaningful way. They think that, somehow, making this resolution will galvinise them into lasting, meaningful change.

But unless a significant internal shift has occurred, your chances of success are slim. In 2009, The Guardian reported on a study by a university psychologist who found that 78 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions do not follow through on those vows.

My advice? If you’re going to go ahead and make those resolutions, make ’em ones you’re likely to stick to. I personally vowed not to feel guilty over spending an insanely large portion of my Christmas bonus on truffle oil and various other culinary delights, or picking my neighbours’ hydrangeas, or worrying about their reaction when I feel like twisting the volume knob all the way up when listening to ‘Eighties Monster Hits’. My husband conceded that if he had to choose a New Year’s resolution, it would be to spend more quality time alone with his iPad. ‘What do you know,’ he said. ‘I feel better already.’

Other articles you may be interested in:
Simple resolutions part 1
Simple resolutions part 2
The new new years resolutions
Have fun and stay motivated
Beauty resolutions you should make now

Written by

Rachel McGregor is a Cape Town journalist (and part-time narcissist) specialising in food, health and lifestyle-related features. In her spare time she loves to cook and poke fun at hipsters. Sometimes she dreams of giving it all up and becoming a millionaire.

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  1. Rashmee Bagirathi

    I made a to do list. A list of things to do and when to accomplish them by.

    5 years ago •

  1. Livvy

    yes, be realitstic when making these resolutions.

    7 years ago •

  1. Riekie

    Nice article, we don’t set new year resolutions … if we want to do something, decide on a date and do it

    7 years ago •

  1. Noma

    I stopped making NY resolutions as I NEVER keep them…

    7 years ago •

  1. Debbie

    I try very hard to stick to my new years resolution and then I realised I make too many. Cut down to 2 now.

    7 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    If you’re going to go ahead and make those resolutions, make ’em ones you’re likely to stick to. That’s it… Time to Stick to it…

    7 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    Amnot the one to make new year resolutions. I completely agree with the writer, if you want to make a change , make it right now.

    7 years ago •

  1. Debsie

    I never stick by my new years resolutions.

    7 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Stewart

    Every year my husband and I make a list of things we want to achieve before the end of the year. It is such a good goal setter and most of the times we have achieved everything after only a couple of months. And it’s a nice thing to do together!

    7 years ago •

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