Monday, January 04, 2016

New Year Resolutions

For many people the end of the year is the time to look back and to see what went well and what went wrong. And they think about their bad habits and what they want to have changed. They think also about what they could do in the year to come. When this end-of-the-year evaluation has been done – it may have been long or short; deep or shallow – many people take a kind of decision in the sense that they say to themselves: “I’ll do this or that. It‘s very important to me, and I’ll really do”. So, they take one or more New Year resolutions. I must say that I never do. Why should I? For taking decisions that will influence my life the date of January 1 has no special meaning for me. I simply take decisions because they have to be taken (or I let the occasion pass to take them at the right moment, with all consequences this failure can bring with it). But many need a special date for making promises to themselves and they think that January 1 is a good one, because it’s a tradition. However, because we are humans most of us will have forgotten their resolutions or have given them up by the time you read this (which will be already on one of the first days of January for my most dedicated followers). Why? For people normally keep their promises, especially if they are more than superficial commitments, but when they make promises to themselves, they often fail to keep them.
Many websites make us clear why making New Year resolutions doesn’t work. For instance, Ramit Sethi tells us in his blog that they fail because usually they are unspecific, they are unrealistic, and they are based on willpower, not on systems (not well integrated in your daily life). I could add that there is also a lack of external pressure: “Force” by others or by the circumstances to execute them. And often, as another website says, the timing of the decision is wrong (and that is, as said already, one of the reasons that I don’t take New Year resolutions, but if I do take decisions it is at the moment they need to be taken).
Has it sense then to take New Year resolutions? Year’s end is neither an end nor is it a beginning. Life is a stream and it can be dangerous to stop a stream for it might lead to a flooding or make that the stream goes in the wrong direction. This sounds more dramatic then it may be in real life, but, for example, if we too often fail in our intentions we can get the feeling that we are unable to complete what we want. Or as Ramit Sethi says it: We tend to distrust ourselves and you don’t believe in yourself any longer. Of course, failed New Year’s resolutions are not more than small contributions to such a feeling but why to take them if it is not necessary and advisable to take them now? In addition, I just said that life – especially as it appears in our actions and decisions – is a stream, namely a stream that mainly flows unconsciously. Isn’t it so that we take many decisions just unconsciously and that it often happens that these decisions are the best; even the important ones? Take counsel of your pillow is a saying that expresses this idea, and when you wake up the right decision pops up. However, this doesn’t depend on a certain date but on the urgent need that something has to be done.
Then you must not take New Year resolutions any longer? Well, you can do but don’t take them too seriously.

Link to the blog by Ramit Sethi:

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