Okay. It has been one month since many of us made New Year’s Resolutions, and it’s time for a reality check. How are they going?
If you’re like most people, your answer is somewhere between “they’re going okay” and “ugh.” New Year’s Resolutions are a psychological minefield. The idea of a New Year’s Resolution is incredibly alluring. Once the new year is here, things will be different, we think to ourselves. We believe that when we wake up on January 1, it will somehow be easier to find the motivation to exercise, eat right, keep to a budget, and banish clutter from the house. Meanwhile, before that shiny new year gets here, we implicitly give ourselves the excuse to party like it’s 1999. After all, it’s not the new year yet, right?
When you think about it, making New Year’s Resolutions has as much chance of making your life worse as it does of making your life better. The resolutions are psychologically set up to fail, and if they do fail, we heap on the guilt and self-recriminations. What a disaster.
So now that the New Year’s hoopla has died down and we’re back to reality, what do we do with our good intentions, our desire to change our lives for the better? I propose that we start thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions not as challenges to be achieved but as drafts to be revised. Beginning today, you can revise your New Year’s Resolutions using the same standards you’d use for any other sentence, particularly a thesis sentence. By revising the way you think about your resolutions, you will change the way you act in response to them, and they can begin to serve the function for which they were intended: to enrich your life.