Why I don’t believe in resolutions

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: AMY SIMON
If there is anything to remember, it's that success doesn't happen overnight.

At the start of almost every new year, gyms become flooded with new members. Healthy food becomes scarce, at least throughout January, as a large majority of people attempt to satisfy their New Year’s resolutions. While I do believe in goals, aspirations, and working towards individualistic dreams, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.

Why? Well with all the generated “hype” that comes with “starting off the new year right,” I see this as the equivalent of setting yourself up for inevitable failure.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe in the power of failure when it comes to learning from our mistakes. But, in the context of New Year’s resolutions, inevitable failure in this case means an eventual unwillingness to accomplish said goals due to self-made pressure.

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I’ll use the example of trying to quit smoking which, coincidentally, is a New Year’s resolution for many. Most people don’t successfully quit the first time due to an inability to break a routine or in this case, addiction. If you plan on breaking a bad habit, ‘going cold turkey,’ in many cases, will not lead to success.

If someone has been smoking a pack a day, every day, for the last 10 years, their body, most likely, will not be able to completely stop the habit on the first try. Breaking any sort of bad habit, like smoking, should be done gradually. But that’s not how most people start tackling New Year’s resolutions.

For some reason, there is this immense amount of pressure on Jan. 1 to immediately accomplish resolutions. So much so, that it’s almost like people are expecting to really put down their last pack or lose all their unwanted weight by the first day.

While impatience does play a slight role, no one loses a lot of weight overnight, or learns a different language in a day, or quits smoking in that same amount of time. When I say I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I’m saying that I don’t believe in setting massive expectations for yourself when that willingness to truly accept and embrace change has not been established.

Look at it this way: say you’re building a new house. You’re not as happy with the one you currently live in, so you decide it’s time for something new. One of the first steps in the construction process is deciding where you want to build the house.

In this scenario, there are two areas of land – one on top of a peaking sand hill and the other in a flat, open grass field. Say you pick the first location, the sand hill, because of the views. But as the construction process continues, the workers struggle to build a solid foundation for the house to stand on, as the sand continues to run and break beneath them. But your only focus is getting the house built so you can see the amazing views you want so dearly.

The workers try to build your “dream house,” but the proper foundation is never achieved and eventually the house crumbles. This is, what I believe, the outcome of most resolutions.

If there is anything to remember, it’s that success doesn’t happen overnight. The new year is a great time to reevaluate your life and think about what you really want. But if you go ‘cold turkey’ come the new year and rush into building your dream house without the foundation of gradual change, those gym memberships are sure to collect dust, and that “last pack” of cigarettes will be opened again and again.

My best advice is to take it one day at a time. Going to the gym daily, finishing the last pack, or cutting out sweets, whatever the case may be, those are end goals, ones that take time to accomplish and, again, don’t happen overnight.

Like Winston Churchill said – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts.” So don’t sell yourself short. Stop putting all the pressure to change your life on the first day of the new year. You’ve got another 364 days to accomplish all that and more.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.