In this day and age, are we really still making new year’s resolutions?
I’d have thought that resolutions fell out of fashion around the same time the “My Year of” books started coming out, those mega-resolutions that people launched their writing careers with. You know – My Year of Abstinence, My Big Fat Vegan Year, My Year of Living Like a Jedi Knight.
Every January, though, the newspapers still abound with resolution articles. Look, I’m doing it right now! Note to self: I resolve to procrastinate less, so that I’m not writing about resolutions this time next year.
It doesn’t help that January is both National Codependency Awareness Month AND National Healthy Weight Awareness Month. That’s a lot of pressure in the month that, according to my friends at Wikipedia (who enable both my procrastination and my mindless snacking) is named for Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions. Lay it on, Janus.
In a perusal of the interwebs and the Facebooks, the thesis holds strong that bad habits and major character flaws can be remedied on an annual basis. Let’s break it down.
There are two main philosophies represented in the Land of Unsolicited Advice. The first we will refer to as the Yes We Give a Hoot camp. These advisors assume that we’re interested in self improvement and recommend we eschew resolutions in favour of setting SMART goals, or some variation.
SMART goals, for those who aren’t fluent in bureaucratese, have nothing to do with watching Maxwell Smart, buying a smart car, or eating the absurdly-named “Smartfood.”
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely – a paradoxically stupid acronym because it takes a full sentence to explain what each word means. In a nutshell, we should set goals where we might actually know when we’ve reached them, rather than simply rolling them over into next year’s resolution.
For example, instead of resolving to keep in better touch with your family, you might set a goal to send a birthday card to each of your relatives, all year. Shh…here’s a tip: you could write, address, and stamp them all in January and you’d be set for the year.
The second broad category of advice is the Anti-Resolution. This is a two-part variant. Firstly, there is only one resolution, which is that we should all resolve to stop making resolutions. Here, the savvy among you might refer us all back to paragraph 1: why are we still talking about this?
The rationale behind resolving to stop resolving is that resolutions make you unhappy and inhibit self love. Fair enough. We can love Smartfood AND ourselves.
Notwithstanding the first commandment, if you are going to make resolutions, make them in a way that you don’t actually have to give anything up.
Examples might include the following. “I will give up being so hard on myself.”
“My success will be to embrace failure.”
“I will do better to accept my flaws.”
You see where these are going, right? It’s a sneaky way of doing nothing, while framing it as self-improvement. It makes no sense. You’re in or you’re out.
I’m all for making resolutions, and I’m all for not making resolutions. Let’s just shut up about it already.
In fact, I advocate the approach my longtime childhood friend is taking this year, which we’ll call the One Good Deed approach. He’s giving over his vacant family home for use by Syrian refugees in 2016. One act of generosity has effectively bought him all the Ferrero Rocher, missed workouts, and swearing he wants for the rest of the year. Janus would be proud.
In case you’re wondering, I DID make a resolution this year. I’ve resolved to drink less coffee while writing my What’s Up stories on the night after they’re due.