New Year's Resolution

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

The first time I wrote new year’s resolutions would be in 2007. It was January and like a normal human being, I wanted a wonderful year for myself.

New Year's Resolutions

I have heard lots of people talk about new year’s resolutions and how good it is to write them down. I remember watching an episode of AM Express where and new year’s resolutions was discussed. One of the guests suggested that we should seek the opinion of family, friends and colleagues and find out what they want us to change and include them in the resolutions.

Young, with zero reasons to disagree with the words of a guest on one of my then favourite TV shows; I went to school and asked classmates who cared to listen what they think I should change about myself. I took notes of their answers. I took a long time with my then close friends. In the end, I and a friend processed the opinion I got from everyone else. Removing the suggestions that came in twice and streamlining some. I remember my friend said he was done with new year’s resolutions himself. But he helped me still.

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Bottom line, I had a list of new year’s resolutions with over 20 items. Poor me. Day 1 had me living like someone else and trying to be the new Victor. A few people complimented the effort, then day 2 and 3. Day 4, I was back to snapping at people at every provocation (which was included as things to stop in the new year’s resolutions) and back to my life. That was freedom. New year’s resolutions abandoned.

2008, we tried again and failed. Then 2009, no success. That was time to talk to others and know how it works for them. Oh well, I couldn’t find someone who it works for. I have lived my life making changes at some point and neither of them depended on waiting for January and an opportunity to write some new year’s resolution to make them work.

New Year's Resolutions

Why Don’t New Year’s Resolutions Work?

I’d say, most times new year’s resolutions are set because of our quest to control. It could be a quest to control our weight; our spending habit; reading habit; drinking or smoking habit and whatsoever habit we have decided to quit. There is a price (which most times we aren’t ready) to pay to be able to achieve the result and take more control of your life. Most times, failing to achieve this, leads you into feeling worse about yourself. You may even lose control over the other parts of your life that is put together.

I hate to say that new year’s resolutions are set to fail. But they are. When we write the new year’s resolutions we tend to focus on what we should be doing and not what we want to do. Your resolution is to lose weight because your weight got talked about during dining talks over the holiday? Pause to think about what you really want. And not what you should be doing. You sure will agree that if weight loss is important to you, you don’t need January to make it work.

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There is a difference between wanting change and wanting to change. I will explain. We may at times express our desire to change forgetting that change is a process and not just an outcome. This is to say that when some of us say, we want to gain weight, we actually want the result of gaining weight and not the sacrifice involved. I tried the weight gain thing and it worked. But I stopped putting effort because the work wasn’t all fun. This is what happens with our new year’s resolutions. We want results and not the process involved. We pull a paper and fill it in with the thoughts of what we wish were or could be; giving zero thoughts to the process involved.

Truth be told, we don’t care much about change as we claim to. We all love a predictable environment. Change is however frightening, threatening and unpredictable. We, therefore, hold on to the familiar. The devil you know… The point here is, while we write the new year’s resolutions in hope to live a better life, deep down we are uncomfortable with the change that comes with it. I have had to deal with this for the times I wrote resolutions. Most times, it feels like I was attempting to go against my nature. Which doesn’t really work.

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This is no attempt to say that change is unachievable. Humans can change. You can decide to go on a weight loss journey and lose the weight. You can decide to be in charge of your spending and be able to do that. You can achieve everything that you have ever written down as your new year’s resolutions.

But it will take more than penning down new year’s resolutions every year. It will take a resolve to achieve whatsoever is on the paper. Have you really thought about the content of the paper? Do you really feel the need to achieve the things on the paper? Or you are just pressured by society and what family and friends say? Do you really want a change that includes the process and not just the result? Yes, you can get those. It just doesn’t have to be tied to a new year’s resolution. Your new year’s resolution has to matter enough to you.

Share with me your experience with new year’s resolutions.

Victor Ugoo Njoku

I am human. I love life. I learn as much as I can every day and share the knowledge on my blog.

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