Resolving not to bother
| December 29, 2021 1:00 AM
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” That’s likely a misattribution to Einstein, but somebody sure was wise enough to say it.
So I hope you fail this week. Actually, I’d rather you didn’t bother trying in the first place.
Okay, so that’s not quite true. And I just failed my resolution to be funny this year.
Today, in this brand new year, I hope you resolve to abstain from the Jan. 1 tradition of starting fresh — that is, if you’re doing it wrong, as many of us do.
The new year’s resolution resolution is a good example of a great idea poorly executed. It should be a great reminder to start fresh, something we all can use. (In fact, if you take a line from the Dalai Lama, becoming a better, more compassionate person is really about being good for everyone else, more than for yourself. So self-improvement really is something we truly ALL could benefit from.)
But new year’s resolutions often go the way of a radical hair and wardrobe change: They’re new, they’re showy, and they sure ain’t gonna last long.
Depending on your source, some 50-80% will crap out on their Jan. 1 goals. At a 20% success rate, Forbes is more pessimistic than the 2002 findings by the Journal of Clinical Psychology, which found 46% followed through.
Psychologists have identified a number of common reasons for this, including 1) motivation, 2) specificity, and 3) achievability.
1) Do you actually want to be one of those people who gets up before the birds chirp to make a kale smoothie, meditate, and journal your way into finding oneness with the universe, or do you just think you should because it looked good in that glossy magazine centerfold story?
2) Deciding to “eat better” is the kind of unhelpful goal that only works in fiction — when a writer can force it to work (and we’re the same people writing dragons and magical pants that fit four different body types into existence). Real people are better off deciding to eat less sugar.
3) While we’re at it, “less” needs to be more specific and realistic. Unless you just got diagnosed with sucrose intolerance or something, you’re probably better off making one little change — like ditching the sugar crystals in your morning cuppa before you try to go cold turkey.
Addressing these problems will go a long way toward making your goals a reality. But if you’ll excuse my two cents (which isn’t worth the paper this was printed on), I’d like to add another piece of resolution advice and reverse the trend: Don’t bother.
I doubt your life coach would appreciate this attitude, but then, the typical push for new year’s resolutions seems more helpful to type A personalities than us B types. So if you’ve been beating yourself up for failing to “work out more,” this may be the year to switch it up — by not bothering at all.
… Yet, anyway.
Skip the madness by failing the resolution period. If you don’t work well under pressure or in competition, you’re probably not going to do well making a change right now. So if you’re going to make some resolution because you feel like you “have to,” but you haven’t helped yourself out by finding the right goal or removing the time of year from the equation, I hope you fail — and make a better (err, more helpful, specific, and kinder-to-yourself) goal instead.
I promise you resolutions can start year-round; you don’t need to match friends post-for-post with colorful meal-prepping selfies or essays about how amazing it is to connect with your faith more. Maybe Jan. 18 (after the decorations are put away, family’s gone home, and you’ve had a normal week again) will be your day.
But even if you start tomorrow, I hope you don’t bother with the “new you” nonsense. Try a “happier, healthier (still) you” who’s allowed to start with a walk around the block three times a week, and save the five-mile jog for someone who already owns (and likes) a pair of Nikes.