Holiday Haters: New Year’s
We use New Year’s day as an excuse to neglect our problems
Go to the gym. Sleep more. Floss your teeth.
We love making New Year’s resolutions. At the dawn of every year, 24 million Americans jot down their hopes and dreams for the new year, hoping to coerce themselves into reform.
There’s a very romantic ideal behind the resolution: after a winter break of reflection, we aspire to better ourselves before we ultimately return to our daily lives. But the reality is rather depressing: only eight percent of people will actually follow through with their resolutions.
Eight percent. That’s lower than Congress’ approval rating this year. Despite all these good intentions, resolutions are undeniably ineffectual. So why do we keep making them?
Because it’s easy. We use New Year’s resolutions as a convenient excuse to neglect our problems. Resolutions stem from issues we are aware of, but ignoring them offers us a quick cop out from any sort of meaningful change. Didn’t meet your resolution? Don’t worry about it, no one does.
This subconscious understanding of our infeasible goals is what makes New Year’s a truly insidious holiday. Resolutions may appear good-natured, but the readiness with which we devalue our goals right after making them is disconcerting. By turning self-improvement into an annual tradition, we’ve decided that setting personal goals is far more important than achieving them.
But why does the emphasis on self-improvement only lie on Jan. 1? Why does our culture have to assign a day to set goals, or “resolutions,” if you must, while we let the other 364 slip by without any further emphasis on bettering ourselves.
Deep down, we know we’re not going to change. We’re not going to call our grandparents more. We’re not going to skip that donut tomorrow morning. Sure, we’ll try, but like everyone else, we’ll forget about it by the end of the month.
The truth is, we’re lazy. It takes a lot of effort to keep up with the goals we set for ourselves, and usually the resolutions we propose go over our heads in terms of complexity. Sure, it’s easy enough to say you’re going to lose 10 pounds. But in practice, this is commitment that most people are not willing to devote themselves to.
And yeah, you may lose the weight. But then what do you do? Pounds are put back on as January turns into February, February turns into March and so on.
And so the other 92 percent of us may proudly state we’re going to lose weight for one whole day, but after a while we inevitably return to the couch, neither sobered nor humbled by failing the goals we set for ourselves, but rather indifferent.
Life goes on, even if we do suck. But hey — maybe next year.