The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Resolutions Are For Losers

When the new year had real religious and economic significance, New Year’s resolutions made a certain amount of sense. They were about renewal, and thanksgiving – a sacrifice to propitiate the gods who allowed you to see another year.

Now, however, it’s all a bit trivial. People promise to quit smoking, start running, learn languages, or whatever, in the completely irrational belief that a promise made on the 31st of January is somehow more likely to be fulfilled. The fact of the matter is, if you really wanted to learn Spanish or start cycling, you probably would have made a start on one of the previous 365 days. The fact that you haven’t indicates that you simply aren’t that serious about whatever inane piece of self-improvement you’ve mistakenly decided will enrich your life. Which you probably haven’t thought through.

Let’s take learning a language. To attain any degree of fluency, you’ll need to commit 10 to 15 hours a week for study and homework, as well as finding a native speaker to practice on. And that’s before we even think about the money. How does that go with a vague desire to understand Spanish? It doesn’t.

Learning an instrument? Same deal, only it’s 42 hours per week and a hell of a lot more money, depending on the instrument. Music is a lifelong pursuit – what makes anyone think they can do it satisfactorily as a hobby?

Quitting smoking? Don’t even get me started. Let’s just say that, if you’re a smoker and there is even the tiniest part of you that doesn’t want to quit, you’ll fail. No matter how special the first day is or isn’t.

How about this – forget New Year’s Resolutions. They rarely work and generally serve no purpose other than letting the person who hears them know exactly how unhappy and unfulfilled you think you are.

Instead, try living every day resolved to do whatever the hell it is that you want, instead of deferring everything to some mythical future when work isn’t stealing all your time, your family doesn’t disrupt everything you attempt to do and your strong preference, given free time, is to faff around doing nothing to re-enforce the myth that you don’t have time to do stuff.

Do it now. This instant. Then keep doing it until you’re done with it. All it takes is to make a New Year’s Resolution to stop making New Year’s Resolutions. Because a resolution is a promise and a promise is action deferred, often indefinitely. Just get started. That way, all the pipe dreams vanish and life can be lived without excuses.

And more importantly, I can stop wasting hours of my life listening to people whine about all the things they want to do but don’t have the time, despite having the time to whine at me about not having time…



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2 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    Agree, mostly, and well said but just a couple of minor notes…

    Hmm. Second para; Jan 31 or Dec 31? Pedantic… I know. Sorry. 😉

    “Quitting smoking? Don’t even get me started. Let’s just say that, if you’re a smoker and there is even the tiniest part of you that doesn’t want to quit, you’ll fail. No matter how special the first day is or isn’t.”

    Don’t know about this. For me? I really didn’t want to quit but forced myself because I knew smoking was just completely idiotic. I loved smoking, I still love the smell and hang out with The Smokers every opportunity I get. I’ve just passed four years nicotine/smoke free and the clean slate thing, I’ve got to say, certainly helped. I planned ahead and needed a target (ie, Jan 1) to do it.

    Point generally taken though.

  2. chris says:

    Ha, yes – Dec 31st definitely. Stupid typo…

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Sam. I definitely did not mean to be dismissive of people who make the titanic effort to quit smoking. All I was really trying to say there was that, if you haven’t sorted that internal conflict (and being a smoker myself I think I know what I’m talking about) then no amount of effort, and no kind of timing is going to help.

    If, however, you have sorted out who you want to be, and that person happens to be a non-smoker, then certainly, with a great degree of willpower and definable goals, such as Jan 1st, you can definitely do it.

    I was more talking about the ‘casual self improvement syndrome’ that seems to plague the Western world.

    Well done with your achievement, Sam! You took action and made something happen, which deserves serious congratulation 🙂

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