New Years Resolutions: A Meditation

by Alyson Raywood

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New Year’s resolutions are made at a time when people hope to set personal goals. Whether the goal is as small as giving up chocolate, or big as losing fifty pounds, individuals set these goals in the hopes of reaching some sort of change.  Unsurprisingly, there are many people who pay no attention to the meaning of a “new year,”  and don’t set any goals.  I am one of those individuals.

It’s not that I’m against the whole idea of ‘changing,’ but more than half the people who make these goals for themselves never follow through. So I don’t see the point in making one in the first place.  Plus, I’ve never made clear to why a ‘new year’ should mark the position for a personal goal.  What makes January 1st any different than August 15th, or November 17th?  A change is a change, regardless of when it happens.

Why January 1st? What makes it so special?

Goals should be made whenever they are thought of, not just because it’s the first minute of the new year in January.  It’s amazing how one simple day creates a flux of people who promise themselves the satisfaction of saying they will change. However, in reality, there are studies that suggest 20% of resolutions are broken within the first week they are made.  And, at least 80% are broken within one year.  The most obvious question that emerges from this mass failure would be, ‘why?’  There are various studies providing reasons.

The first study states that the joy of feeling like a “pure success” goes away after the first minor setback of the goal.  Which basically means that individuals set themselves up for failure in the first place.  The whole idea of a ‘new year’ lures them toward good intentions, but often their goals are too lofty, unattainable, or go against their natural inclination to change.  So their intentions usually wind up failing them.

Next, studies say that the ‘snowball effect’ gets in the way of achieving goals. This effect is when a minor miss-happen takes place, and leads the person to think that they have failed. Therefore, the individual gives up.

The third study shows that goal-setters overlook their progress and reward themselves too easily.  For an example, someone’s goal is to lose weight.  He or she eats healthy food for a solid week, but then decides to reward himself or herself with ice cream.  And just like that, the goal hits its downfall.  After the one reward comes another and another and so on.

The ‘nice-to-keep’ syndrome hits many people.  See, these individuals set their goals on the first of January, but a week later something more interesting or more intriguing occurs, and the goal gets put on the back burner.  Then just like that, the goal is forgotten.

One of the major problems with the goals that people set during the new year is that most are random. Well, maybe not cot completely out of left field, but most goals don’t have a clear reason why.  And if there’s no ‘why,’ then motivation is ignored, and the goal is undermined.  If the motivation for a goal was stronger, there wouldn’t be so many downfalls.

Lastly, all of the small reasons for not wanting to keep a resolution add up to one huge reason. And that reason is that rarely do people act enough to accomplish their goals.  The concept of a goal is not hard to figure out, it’s just hard to do. The goal starts off on a good note, but the normal setbacks start after a couple of weeks.  The goal never seems to stay permanent, and it is then abaondoned.

All of the reasons and studies surrounding New Year’s resolutions have led me to believe that it isn’t worth the time to make one.  If I, or any other person, wants to make a personal change, than go ahead and do so. Not because it’s the first of January, which marks a “new beginning” for us, but because we want to, and are motivated to do so.

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