Everyone has something that they want to improve or change about their lives. Each year, January 1 offers the opportunity to fulfill that desire. But most New Year’s resolutions endure a short lifespan. Many view this inherent failure to maintain a pact in an untried year a useless tradition. After all, what is the point of attempting self-improvement if, in the end, you end up feeling worse about yourself?
Of course, you should not dedicate one day a year to fulfill your personal goals. Working towards a goal should be a yearlong, everyday effort. The lack of New Year’s resolution longevity, however, does not take away its potential for positive change. To those hoping to hit the books, the gym, or the salad bar, setting a definitive date (especially one as renewing as January 1) can help to make a lifestyle change, so long as that change is undertaken with absolute intent and not just for the sake of boasting.
How, then, can you correct the severely flawed New Year's resolution "system" that becomes more evidently damaged with each abandoned goal? How can you focus more on the personal benefits of self-improvement than on the social benefits?
When the question is posed in this manner, the answer is obvious. Resolutions should not be socially based; rather, they should be governed by personal ambition. All too often, you join your peers in cheat days that lead to the altogether disregard of your intentions. The failings of a group lessen the disappointment an individual faces. It would be more effective, then, to dedicate yourself to a course of action individually constructed rather than group constructed. This requires a bit of a paradigm shift, but there are ways to make such a modification.
Recently, a family member told me about an article she read online which urged hopeful resolution-keepers not to tell others of their goals if they wish to see their desires become realities. At first, I thought the idea was illogical—surely without the support of peers or the pressuring eyes of others it would be easier to abandon the resolutions you set out to keep.
However, with a little more consideration, the proposal offers an interesting perspective. The Psychology Today article reasons that by telling others of your intentions, you gain the same mental satisfaction as if you had actually gone through with the plan. Once your brain reaches that sense of personal identity, it is much more difficult to actually bring the plan to fruition.
Notably, this individualized plan of attack requires you to be wholly devoted to your resolution. Those who seek a positive reaction or affirmation from their social circles over fulfillment of their intentions will not benefit from such a method. But, for those who wish to change their lives for the better, this course of action is worth a shot.
So, this New Year's, don’t give up on personal improvement, even if all past attempts have failed miserably. Focus on making goals your own. Keep the details to yourself until you see positive results come to life. Hopefully, on December 31, 2017, the world will be proud of the change you made.