The New Year’s Resolution. Easy to participate in, nearly impossible to stick to. It takes a special kind of person to keep a secret promise when there is nothing to lose and no one cares if you quit. And yet, many people love the idea of “new year, new me.” Celebrities participate (Zuckerberg vows to create his own version of Iron Man’s Jarvis this year), politicians participate (“increase military spending,” “fight federal overreach,” “do my job”), the young participate (“Get a job and save money,” said my 17-year-old cousin), and the old participate (“Finish my will,” said my grandmother’s depressingly pragmatic friend).
Some naysayers claim that New Year’s resolutions are for the weak-willed. “If you really wanted to make a change, you would. Resolutions are just for those who lack the self-discipline to change without a resolution,” said my friend’s alpha-male boyfriend. Well, I have a feeling people who say this are just avoiding making a resolution that they themselves will break a month later.
Let’s face it. There is something innately motivating about a “fresh start,” even if it is only an illusion. Imagine how good you would feel if, on Dec. 31st, 2016, you were able to declare your resolution a success. What a New Year’s Eve party that would be! Because I want everyone to celebrate their success next December instead of groaning about the resolution they abandoned in February, I have compiled a few tips to help you stay resolved.
HAVE MORE THAN ONE
No one said you had to keep all of your resolutions. The standard custom is to make and keep one, but if you make 10 and keep one, you still did it! I like the number of my resolutions to match the ending number of the year. For example, I made six resolutions for 2016. This can get tricky in the higher years but you’ll just have to get creative.
MAKE THEM MEASURABLE
Love more, laugh more, live more? Stop. You are a person, not an inspirational throw pillow. These are either abstract goals that are more like principles, or really lazy goals that are impossible to quantify and therefore impossible to fail at. If you want to love more, challenge yourself to say “I love you” at least once a day. If you want to laugh more, resolve to organize a family game night once a month. If you want to live more, make a list of activities that you vow to experience before the end of the year.
MAKE THEM EMPOWERING INSTEAD OF RESTRICTING
There’s nothing fun about telling yourself, “I will not eat any sweets this year.” “Great,” you may think, “no chocolate fondue on Valentine’s Day, no birthday cake, no Easter Cadbury eggs, no Halloween candy, no pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, no egg nog on Christmas.” In other words, nothing to look forward to at all. Cutting down sugar is a very healthy resolution and worthy of striving for, but wording it properly can be the difference between giving up at the first sight of cupcakes and sticking it through. Instead of forbidding sugar altogether, say “If I want something sweet, I will drink an 8 ounce glass of water and chew a stick of gum first to decrease my appetite and satisfy my sweet tooth.” Instead of being restrictive, this resolution simply encourages behavior that makes the undesired behavior less likely.
Most of the resolutions I hear are health and fitness related. These are important to consider and include but keep in mind that you are more than just your pant size. Is there nothing else you want to improve about yourself? Would you like to be more well-rounded, more outgoing, less obnoxious, a better conversationalist, or a funnier person? What about relationships? Would you like to argue less with your spouse, become closer with your sibling, or see your relatives more? If you can’t think of anything you need to improve about yourself or your relationships, ask a friend or relative. My mother can talk to a person for five minutes and come up with 15 unsolicited improvements they need to make about themselves.
LOSE THE ALL-OR-NOTHING MENTALITY
Your resolution should be challenging but not absolute. If you have already skipped a day at the gym, don’t write off your resolution as failed. “Go to the gym every day of the year,” is too strict and allows for no wiggle room. “Go to the gym three days a week,” is more reasonable, and if you only go twice one week, just go four times the next week and call it good.
Take these tips, revise your resolutions if necessary, and don’t give up. Come Dec. 31st, throw yourself an extra big party for your commitment and determination, and as a reward, take 2017 off. You earned it.