Love it hate it: New Year’s resolutions

by Patty Templeton

Love ItIn his “Works and Days,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Similarly, over 100 years later, William Elliott Whitmore sang, “Write this down, and don’t forget – that the best of times ain’t happened yet.” And I damn well believe both of them.

Life is a melee of deliberately molding yourself into being rather than allowing mass media to engineer your search for self. It is in this sense of knowing that every day is precious and that every day is a battle to be the person I want to be, not the one that corporations want to mold me into being, that I make New Year’s resolutions.

I am an absolute sap for New Year’s resolutions. I make resolutions not only at the New Year, but on my birthday. I know that in my get-shit-done process, accountability – even if it is a scrawly page in my journal – is important. I organize my brain in lists. My wants. My future. The days may be slow, but the years go fast. Resolutions are a way for me to make sure the me I want to be, gets put front and center. That if I can think of a fabulous goal, there’s no reason I can’t reach for it and possibly put purchase on it.

— Patty TempletonHate itYou porked out on cookies and gravy-centric meals for a month, and now you’ve made a resolution to lose weight. Seems like a good idea. So what could there possibly be to hate about people taking inventory of their lives and determining what is and isn’t working, how they’d like to improve, habits that would make them healthier, actions that would make the world better? It’s easy. Because New Year’s resolutions make a failure out of virtually everyone who attempts them.

Just over 50 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent will actually follow through and maintain their aspirations. According to one survey, a quarter of all resolutionists don’t even make it past the first week.

NY’s resolutions make us do silly things, like buy expensive gym memberships, often a year’s worth at a time, thinking the stupid-high price tag on the membership will motivate us to actually use it. According to the podcast “Planet Money,” a branch of the gym franchise Planet Fitness (and others, presumably) sold 6,000 gym memberships, even though it only had capacity for 300 exercisers. Apparently, according to “Planet Money,” half of all Planet Fitness members never use their membership once. That’s their business model.

All the research out there says the biggest enemies are resolutions that are too lofty and/or too vague. So instead of saying you want to simply lose weight, a better resolution would be to lose 5 pounds in two months.

Keep in mind, it takes about 66 days to form a new habit, according to a study by the University of London. So make those resolutions – see if I care – just don’t set yourself up to fail. That I would hate.

— David Holub


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