Full Disclosure: New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday.
Why? Because time is objective. There’s no expectations for the holiday (you can make it as big as a party or as small as a silent prayer), most local television stations run marathons of classic shows, and it is a genuine chance to start anew. Heck, it’s even the start of a new fiscal year in the United States. What’s not to love?
Plenty, according to some.
There is really one everlasting tradition that surrounds New Years (two, if you count singing “Auld Lang Syne”): Resolutions. Ah yes, that thing we tell our friends and family that we plan to do to better ourselves. Seems easy enough, right? And while I understand you can make resolutions at any time, there is something noble about attempting to do so at the start of the year.
Cue the backlash.
Not sure if it’s a generational thing or just a matter of taste, but I feel folks absolutely abhor resolutions these days. What’s the use they say? Why even try? This ARTICLE really gave me pause.
To that I say, stop being a wuss.
There’s nothing wrong with holding yourself accountable. When you make a resolution, you are putting yourself on the hook to deliver (or at least try to deliver). To say something like, “Well they never work out so why keep them?” is hilarious. You gave yourself a goal and missed that goal, so having goals are now stupid.
Trust me, I’ve failed at resolutions all the time. I’ve told myself that I was going to “lose weight” for almost a decade before hitting the gym. The result? I ended up actually gaining more weight than losing it, but that didn’t stop me. The problem I (and others) had was that my resolutions were too “big” or “vague.”
Lose weight? Well, how much? Over how much time? Are you going to give it up if you “slip” and eat a whole pizza?
Stop smoking? That implies doing so cold turkey. It can be done, but has a high failure rate.
Be financially stable? That goal is nearly impossible to achieve in a single year.
On December 31st, 2010 I tore off a sheet of a legal pad and got to writing. I started the concept of the “Yearly Bucket List,” or things I wanted to do before the next year kicked the bucket. Though they weren’t written as resolutions, the effect was the same: I was holding myself accountable. I’ve done Yearly Bucket Lists ever year since. I think I cleared a list only once, but the set up allows me to take action. Or at least, take more action than I would have otherwise.
In fact, the idea is so effective I tell everyone about the method. This usually leads to blank stares and those ironic thumbs up that says “Good for you, dude,” but I’m fine with it. Those lists have led to my taking up comedy, releasing books, writing screenplays, and finally visiting those cities I promised myself I would check out.
So make those resolutions. There’s still time.