You’ve made a list, checked it twice, and there’s still no chance in hell you’ll achieve those lofty resolutions until anywhere near Easter.
But before you spiral into a black hole of self-resentment and remorse, banging your head against a freezer full of Ben & Jerry’s and low-grade vodka, pondering rhetorical variations of why do I suck?, you should recognize that some resolutions never stood a chance.
Like your last relationship, it’s not you.
And it’s not necessarily the resolution, either. There are plenty of reasons that contribute to your annual failure that have nothing to do with one’s inherent ability to reach a goal.
Kylie Jenner, for example, said one of her resolutions for 2016 was to not spend money. Severe detachment from reality dictated that was not possible.
If you’re serious about making an improvement to your life in 2017, avoid the following reasons why everyone from a teen with a World of Warcraft addiction to a Kardashian can’t keep their resolutions…
Say you want to do a quick Crossfit sesh before every meal. There will be an immense degree of misery at the beginning, which will only be compounded if wallowing in it is an individual effort. Find someone who shares your pain and revel in your co-suffering – “misery loves company,” etc. You know, schadenfreude.
You post a photo of a palm tree on Instagram to announce to all your followers that you want to travel more in 2017. By mid-summer, you’ve visited maybe three or four new local area codes. Try breaking your grand goal into smaller, achievable ones – saving money, not wasting your vacation days, mastering Skyscanner’s search function. Each one offers its own bit of fulfillment and will prolong your patience for The Big One.
So, you want to live life to the fullest? We’ve seen federal budget predictions more tangible than that. You need to choose something that can actually be measured. Like, say, buying mittens so you don’t have cold hands this winter. Does cutting reindeer milk from your diet help you live a fuller life? The answer can only be a resounding maybe.
Wrote the goal down on paper? Treat yo’self. Achieved the first mini-goal? Treat yo-self. Mid-year and you’re still on pace? Treat yo-self. Mission accomplished? DAMN, TREAT YO’SELF! Rewards are a great way to keep you motivated, whereas punishments will only set you further back from where you started. But be wise with yo’ treats – no Cohiba because you’ve just gone 100 days without smoking.
You want to run a half-marathon, reduce debt, and take the kids fishing more – all near impossible in early January and bound to be forgotten when there’s a more opportune time to fulfill them. There’s a very reasonable argument that waiting all year until the arbitrary moment you’re allowed to set a goal is highly ineffective. Not sure there’s a solution to this one.
Eating healthier, drinking less, taking the garbage out before it turns into a game of Jenga – these are all things you should do. But do you want to do them? If not, there’s a high chance you’ll abandon ship. Recognize why you want to do something instead of why you think it needs to be done. Stop eating deep-fried butter because you can feel your arteries crawling to a standstill, not because #cleaneating is a trendy hashtag.
If all the above wasn’t discouraging enough, just know that many, many smart people have dug deep into science to determine psychological reasons for your inevitable collapse. Nearing the end of January without a shred of progress to your name? Just blame it on “cultural procrastination” or “false hope syndrome.” Unless one of your New Year’s resolutions is to rewire your brain, there’s very little hope anything you write on a piece of paper between now and January 1 will be fulfilled.