Do New Year’s Resolutions Matter?

Only 48 hours had passed before I caved. The sweet smell of BBQ chicken wings was intoxicating. Before I knew it, I had eaten roughly half a chicken, and my family of vegetarians looked at me disdainfully. 

Many of you will have a similar experience. Whether it’s going to the gym, using social media less frequently, or no longer talking to your ex, New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep.

So why? Why do so many of us have these grand plans only to break them within the first month? It could be because we want to imagine ourselves better than what we truly are. There could have been serious intentions behind the initial resolution, but quitting cold chicken is never easy.

Illustration by annabel Driussi

The origin of the phenomenon of making promises to oneself at the new year dates back to the Babylonians, who would make promises to the gods to return borrowed objects and repay their debts. The Ancient Romans, knights of the Medieval era, and most religious peoples of the past did the same. In each case, the new year was seen as an opportunity to improve one’s life or accomplish a personal goal. However, the fact that the tradition is ancient does not make it any easier.

According to the US News and World Report, around 80 percent of people fail their resolutions, and most don’t even make it past mid-February. While this is substantially better than my 48 hours, it demonstrates how meaningless the word “resolution” has become. The power of a resolution is gone, and has simply become  something you write on a piece of paper that you will eventually lose. Along with this, resolutions create disappointment in oneself when it comes to its premature end.

So, as a certain communist once said, “what is to be done?” Do we continue to set these high expectations for ourselves, while simultaneously bracing for their inevitable failure? Or do we take a new approach?

We are blessed at this school to have the opportunity for block resolutions, which tend to be much more forgiving, and can change according to one’s differing schedules. If your goal is to actually do your readings, go to the gym more, or finally book that appointment with the Career Center, it’s always easier with the specific end and start date that the Block Plan offers. On top of this, studies show that it takes 21 days to make a habit. So, if you stick to it for the 25 days of the Block, then it might genuinely become part of your lifestyle.

Change can’t happen overnight. By making small adjustments instead of lifestyle overhauls, the chances of success increase exponentially. Enlist a friend to join your struggle. Tell your mom about what you hope to accomplish. Maybe even write a Catalyst article about it. Who knows! The world is your oyster. However, I write this as I eat an eight-count from Chick-Fil-A, so I probably wouldn’t take advice from me. 

Josie Kritter

Josie Kritter

Josie, class of 2019, is a political science major from Culpeper, Va. She writes for the news and opinion sections of The Catalyst. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and scuba diving (which is unfortunately almost impossible in Colorado).
Josie Kritter

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