The Absurdity of New Year’s Resolutions!
By Stephen Doherty
“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.
Next week you can begin paving Hell with them, as usual. “ –Mark Twain
One of my favorite lines from the first Jurassic Park movie was from Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, when he was trying to flirt with Laura Dern and honestly stated, “I’m always looking for a future EX-Mrs. Malcolm.” Honesty? Or perhaps just the acknowledged reality of a proven pattern of choices and behavior? Do we admire such candor or does this degree of certainty of outcome make us uncomfortable? I have decided that New Year’s Resolutions are pretty much the same narrative, “I’m always looking to rigidly commit to tasks and goals that I’ve failed to achieve the last twenty years in a row.” There—doesn’t that feel better? Failed New Year’s resolutions have become yet one more driver of depressed and saddened citizens riddling our increasingly neurotic national landscape. Don’t succumb to this madness!
Here’s the bottom line. The need for a list of resolutions is a tacit admission of failure for last year’s list, no? I might point out also that a year is an awfully long time and that failure is almost certain when allowed such a protracted schedule. Therein lies the paradoxical conundrum-set ourselves up for failure with unrealistic goals framed within an impossible timetable. Then, gleefully indulge one’s self in the bounty of that failure over the next (fill-in-the-blank) months until January 1st of the following year. Follow. Repeat. Follow. Repeat. Anybody got that definition for failure hanging somewhere? “Continuing to do the same thing…..”
Here’s a better idea. I know several successful people who have the simplest recipe for success. Live right-every day! Period. These people never have to lose twenty pounds because they never gained twenty pounds! These people don’t have to stop drinking or smoking because they never drink or smoke! These people don’t have to get in shape because they never get out of shape! These people don’t need to change their work habits to become successful—they became successful because they always had good work habits! These people don’t need to stop procrastinating because they abide by a “First Things First” mentality and never procrastinate. These people don’t need to commit to less stress—they have less stress because they do the right thing—every day. I think you get the point.
My favorite quote is by the famed psychiatrist, Carl Jung—who simply but eloquently stated, “I am not what I have done. I am what I choose to do.” Translation? Every single day is another opportunity to do less or more or different. You don’t have to wait another year to reset your commitments. You just get back on the horse and continue your ride! The moment is all we have. Revel in it and thrive in it and fail in it if need be, comfortable in the knowledge that in the blink of an eye—the deck, YOUR deck, can be instantly reshuffled! Even Jesus was a fan of this approach. “Do not distress thyself with tomorrow’s affliction, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth; perhaps tomorrow may not be, and thou wilt be found distressing thyself, for the time which is nothing to thee.”
One final thought as you excitedly gear up for the coming year and all the success and excitement that awaits. The race may not always go to the swifter man-but to the one with the lightest load. What is weighing you down or impeding your efforts? What obstacles stand between you and your mission? What old weight is lingering on your shoulders that is stifling the pursuit of new victories? Guilt? Shame? Failure? Fear? Let it go. LET—IT—GO! The only certainties in life are that yesterday cannot be altered, and that tomorrow is promised to no one. Beyond that-anything is still possible! GO for it in 2019!