Really? Is a flip of the calendar all it takes to make us a new and different person? I don't think so. Sure, we'll all be writing the wrong year on our checks, but that's about the only thing that everyone experiences together at the beginning of the year.
For some people, the new year means absolutely nothing. For others, it's an opportunity to change the behaviors about themselves that they don't like, or think need changing. It doesn't usually work. By the time March marches in, most of us have long forgotten our New Year's resolutions.
Why do so many resolutions fail? The reasons vary. Here are five of the most common resolutions, and some of the reasons why they don't succeed:
1. I'm going to eat healthier.
Someone once said that 86.7% of all New Year's resolutions have something to do with losing weight. (That someone was me, and I said it just now.) (93.4% of all statistical numbers I cite are made up by me on the spot.) (And 56.2% of those are pretty accurate.) (At least as far as I know.)
One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat healthier. We know what some of that means: eat less fast food; don't drink as much soda; lay off the donuts and sweets; eat more vegetables; eat more fruit; eat more salad; drink more water.
It sounds easy enough. But, if it were so easy, we wouldn't need that New Year's resolution, would we?
Why we fail: Have you tasted a donut? Have you tasted spinach? Which tastes better?
Aside from the obvious difference in taste between healthy and unhealthy foods, there are also the matters of price and convenience. A two-liter jug of soda usually costs less than a 16 ounce bottle of water. And you can go to a drive-thru and have a triple bacon cheeseburger with extra sauce plopped right into your car window, but there are no real healthy fast food alternatives. (I've yet to find a drive-thru that serves asparagus.)
2. I'm going to exercise.
After the gluttony of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, it's easy to say we need to get out and exercise. We've all had those periods in our lives when we exercised, and we all vaguely remember how good it felt to push ourselves with a good workout. And yet….
Why we fail: January isn't the best time of year for exercise. For one thing, the gym is overcrowded with all those other resolution-making folks. For another thing, it's cold outside. And it's dark. Who wants to get out of bed when it's still dark? And who wants to get out of bed when it's so cold? The bed is warm. The bed is cozy. The bed is comfortable. (Stretchy gym shorts are not comfortable.)
3. I'm going to lose weight.
Everyone knows the two things you need to do to lose weight: 1) eat healthier, and B) exercise.
Why we fail: I think we've already covered this. (Would you rather get up at 5:00 AM and run for two miles, then have kale for breakfast; or sleep in and have someone serve you bacon in bed?)
4. I'm going to be better with my money.
Sometimes when January rolls around we have no choice but to be better with our money, because we just spent all we had (and more) on Christmas. We think we can spend less by not eating out as much, keeping away from Amazon.com, and just staying home.
Why we fail: It's getting easier and easier to spend money. Back in the day, we'd have to pull out our wallet and physically grab some cash in order to spend it. Or, we'd have to get out our checkbook and a pen and do a bit of scribbling. These days, our computers and phones know our credit card numbers so all it takes is a click here or a click there to send our money out of our back account and into someone else's. Financial irresponsibility has never been so easy!
|Amazingly, it's harder to spend cash than it is to click a mouse.|
5. I'm going to spend more time with my family.
This one should be easy. It's winter outside, so it should be simple to just stay in the house and spend time with the rest of the family. We live with these people, and we like them, so there shouldn't be any problem being around them, right?
Why we fail: More and more often we spend our time staring into our phones or computers instead of interacting with the people around us. We'll sit, five people in a room, each staring into their own rectangle. (I don't think it counts as family time if we don't actually say anything to each other.)
It's easy to make New Year's resolutions. It's not quite so easy to keep them. It mostly comes down to willpower. We have to decide what we want to do, then stick with it. Put down that cookie and pick up that carrot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don't choose the "Buy It Now" option. Put down your cell phone and talk to someone.
If we are able to do what we say we want to do, some of it might actually get done!