Opinion: New Year’s resolutions do matter

I notice a trend in New Year’s resolutions: they take on great new responsibilities that are meant to im­prove our lives aesthetically. New diets, working out more often, seek­ing a new career and so forth. While these resolutions have meaning and offer a fulfilling reward, taking on large commitments out of the blue often leads to disillusionment or dis­content over the lack of perceived change in a short period of time. This explains why many resolutions ulti­mately die out so quickly: You’re gain­ing new responsibilities and expect­ing swift, positive changes in your life without getting rid of the bad habits or stressors that keep you from succeeding at your resolutions.

It would make more sense to find a better method to improving our lives. Perhaps the best method is right under our noses: finding the things that cause you stress or con­flict in your life and simply letting them go.

Removing problems in your life before starting better habits or proj­ects allows you to remove the issues that would normally get in the way of our resolutions. Spend too much time on social media? Have a con­stant “fear of missing out”? Get rid of that social media and make more meaningful and personal relation­ships with your friends and loved ones. Want to start healthier habits? Start small and get rid of your un­healthy ones; recognize what you eat or do that’s unhealthy and use your free time in more active or creative ways. Get rid of those unnecessary stressors in your life. Bad at keeping a schedule and feel like life is clut­tered? Henry David Thoreau couldn’t have said it better: “Our life is frit­tered away by detail. Simplify, sim­plify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

The key to any good resolution is not just commitment, but willpower. It’s not a matter of pushing or chal­lenging oneself to make radical changes in your life but making simple solutions that are not only achievable, but will benefit you in the long run. Letting go of things you don’t need is the simplest way to start — all you have to do is not do those things. The will to say no is one of the most powerful assets we have in our own lives, and we should utilize this to our best interest.

I cannot say that everyone will succeed in their pursuits to make the changes they want in their lives. As grim as that outlook seems, we still have all the willpower and control that we desire to have in our lives to change them as we see fit. The easiest changes to make are the simplest: let go of the negative first so you can start to make room for the positive later on.