New Year’s Resolutions are Bullshit… But Here’s How To Make Them Work

 

 

 

New Year resolutions

 

 

This past year (2014 for those who will get confused) I started working out “again” about 17 times throughout the months, and each time for a different reason. One day it would be for health, another day it would be because I wanted to look hot next year, or… well I suppose those are the two main reasons to work out. But each time I would start again, I would make up my mind that this time it would be for the long haul. Well, today will be my fifth day since I haven’t worked out and to be honest, I have no idea when I my mind will suddenly decide to finish that 30-day ab challenge (which suspiciously I’m stuck on day 12 after stretching it for 3 months).

It’s not that I’m lazy, well, it’s not ONLY that I’m lazy, it’s just the fact that I have so many other projects going on that after a while I find things much more worthy of my effort than working out. Look at me going on the defensive to my readership. And yet, come tomorrow, I will be a new man and the real work out will begin. Then again, you probably know that also… is bullshit.

 

STATS

 

In a study published on January 1st, 2014 by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, apparently 45% of Americans usually (key word here) make New Year’s resolutions. And to show you how you’re not alone when it comes to breaking your new year’s resolution a mere 3 and 1/2 hours after the new year, check this out. Out of that 45%, only 46% of them stuck with their resolutions after 6 months. Meanwhile, an astounding 75% maintained their resolutions only throughout the first week. The math is still working me but I assume that out of the 25% that made it through hell-week (which is to say, the first week of January), only 46% made it to half a year. This is not only kinda sad, but it’s also pretty accurate. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m part of that 46% but I’m also not part of the 3/4ths who never even tried. I’d say I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. [1]

And now here’s the ridiculously clichéd list of things that people resolutely make right before quitting, enjoy!

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams (I assume they mean with their dreams and aspirations)
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

Okay, I could sit here and break down each and everyone of these “resolutions” for how stupid they are or… no ‘or’, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, because it’s fun! Stick with me my young padawans.

Cool, so we have our list of the 10 most ridiculous things people say they will do come the new year. And if they didn’t get a hint of how in one whole year they couldn’t do something as easy as “learn something exciting”, then they probably will not learn something exciting this year. This blog in itself is something exciting, so if that’s one of yours you can go ahead and cross it right out, i.e. learn something exciting. So with that in mind, let’s find ways we can get you to stick to your New Year’s resolutions for longer than a day, or at least let me tell you why you shouldn’t even try. But at least I promise you, you will learn something today. Oh and please remember that I am NOT a doctor, a psychiatrist, a life coach, a healthcare professional, and have not conducted studies myself so do follow the links for the appropriate researches and studies and do contact professionals should you decide to follow my advise. Having said that, enjoy the ride!

 

Lose Weight

 

In today’s America, a magical place where a meal consisting of a burger, fries and a soda drink (arguably the healthiest option, between that and eating from a garbage dump), can be as low as $1 and where something gross like a salad is as low as $3.50, obesity is running rampant like Ebola when we thought we were all going to die. Difference here is that…wait, where’d Ebola go?

Anyways, according to the Weight Control Information Network in a study aptly named the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009–20102) 2 in 3 Americans are overweight and/or obese and about “one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.”[2] Now I’m not going to go into the specifics on why Americans are now second to Mexico in obesity- no seriously- but I will say that the math doesn’t really work in our favor. That means that out of 316 million people currently living in the U.S. at least 105 million are obese or otherwise overweight. It’s kinda hard to know exactly how many of those Americans actually made resolutions and either kept them or break them-since I suck at math- but hell if half of Americans made resolutions and one third of them are overweight, then we could guesstimate how many of those overweight Americans are the ones who made their priority to make a resolution about promising to hopefully one day start to think about planning on losing weight. Yup.

It’s easy to see why half of America strives to be skinny when you don’t have any overweight superheroes (does Hulk count?), and all the people on TV are rail-thin . But for the majority of them that do not have an actual medical imbalance, the burden of the resolution will lie entirely on them and their desire to slim down, whether it is to be healthy or to simply look good, which of course plays a huge psychological role in their personal lives.

Run in 2015

 

But losing weight, is not itself the end-result, it’s just a combination of words to describe an action. And it seems like that in itself is a huuuuuge goal to achieve, which is why most people fail at it. Because of course it’s easier to stay as you are rather than give it a shot; it’s easier to sit in front of your TV and make a half-assed effort with a shake-weight rather than going out there and run a couple of miles; it’s more convenient to eat a bag of Cheetos rather than make a fruit salad. But I also understand that it can be daunting and sometimes very difficult. So instead I offer a simpler task that anyone can achieve. We should be combining resolutions to see this one through (for example combining 5 and 7, if it applies, and doing it incrementally). So instead of looking at this goal as if you would standing in front of Mount Everest, see yourself as standing in front of one small boulder. After all climbing one small boulder at a time in perspective seems a lot easier to do than looking at a big fucking mountain daring you to climb it. Perhaps do one exercise a day or eat one more vegetable every week than you normally would- for some of you that would be… one vegetable a week. But hey, that’s progress.

But the most important thing to remember is to be yourself. If you are seriously looking to slim down for whatever reasons you may have, don’t do it because it’s what you’re supposed to do at the beginning of each new year, or because you are being shamed into doing it, do it because you are convinced that you need a change in your life and because you want to. And until you are completely convinced that you should, don’t start something you know you can’t finish.

 

Get Orgarnized

 

Getting organized is easily done unless you are the star of the show “Hoarders” in which case, you really need to make that your resolution, not just for the new year but all the time!

But it depends on what people mean by getting organized. Whether it is in your personal life, your finances, or simply to finally getting around to organize that cluttered heap of trash where your desk used to be. But getting organized is just the opposite of something like loosing weight, it is a step rather than the end-result. Getting organized can be applied to every aspect of your life, it is simply taking the steps necessary to achieve something, but most importantly, taking them in order.

Some people might need help doing this one, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help from someone that looks like they have their shit together. Don’t be fooled, sometimes the people who look like they have everything under control have the most chaotic life, so look for clues to help you out: are they calm and collected; would you consider them better than you at the goal you are trying to achieve; do they have the time and energy to help you overcome some of the hurdles in your life as you are trying to get organized? All these aspects have to be considered. However, don’t just place your trust in anyone, study and be skeptical of these people. I encourage you to be skeptical of this blog, after all I’m not a life coach or a professional, these are just my personal opinions. So, if you feel that your life has become disorganized, maybe it’s a better idea to seek professional help, rather than taking a random stranger’s opinion. But the the first step to get organized is to get organized, whatever it is you are trying to achieve, has to have a first step. So find out what that first step is and write it down. Taking that first step, is only the beginning. To stay organized is the hard part.

 

Spend Less, Save More

 

If you’re like me, then this is easier said than done. If you are already severely in debt, follow the instructions for the last one and get professional help. But if you feel like your case is still salvageable then it is just a matter of discipline. There are several things you can do to see this one through. You could talk to your bank to help you save money through some program they might have, or you yourself could devise a reward-system that you know you can accomplish.

Here’s an idea that I learned from my own family, and it’s a very effective way to save. Gather 9 friends who you know are 100% reliable (it’s strongly recommended that they have jobs) and form a saving club. Hand out numbers from one to ten. The person who needs the money the most will obviously get the first number, the person who needs it the least, or who just wants to save money but doesn’t really need it, will have the last number. Each week all 9 friends will give $100 to the person with that number. So if you get the first number, you get $900. Then the next week, you, along with the other 8 friends will give $100 to the person holding number 2. And so on, until everyone ends up with $1000. Again ONLY do this with people that you know and who are totally reliable, otherwise you run the risk of getting your and everyone else’s money stolen by some asshole.

So there you go, if you find a better way to save, do it, but remember to do something that you know you can accomplish and set up benchmark goals so that you know you are accomplishing them little by little, say 40 bucks a week or something similar. Good luck to you on that one!

 

Enjoy Life to the Fullest

 

Sometimes it’s hard when life is unexpected, and how could it not be, c’est la vie! But people make the fallacy of thinking that to live life to the fullest you have to quit your job and leave all your earthly possessions behind. Not only is this a really good way to become homeless, but it’s also inefficient and it’s sure to bring you more problems than it will solve. You don’t have to be Walter Mitty to enjoy your life right now, you just need to find the right things that excite YOU. Don’t try to change who you are, because when you fight against your own nature, trust me, you will always lose. But instead try to find new things every day that wake you up, that excite you. Try to tackle your fears, one at a time, and if your life has become sedentary, plan one big trip for this year.

Another thing people say is “live each day as if it was your last”. Yeah, don’t do that. That’s stupid. People have responsibilities to attend to (jobs, relationships, parenting, finishing the last level of Call of Duty, who knows) and they should see those responsibilities through. Instead, live your life as it is your ONLY ONE. No one, and I mean no one knows for sure what happens after death. Even if you are hardcore into religion and you believe there is an afterlife, why wouldn’t you want to live this one you are very very sure exists, to the fullest? Besides, death can creep up on you at any moment. Death is by nature, inconvenient. Unless you are given a death sentence that you know for sure will be carried out, most people on Earth don’t know when their time will be up, so instead live this life you have as if it is your only one because it is.

This is one of the hardest things to do in life because it takes a whole life to see it through. This is not something to make a resolution for one year, but for always. Some people take pleasure in the little things, while others only feel accomplished when they have received the recognition they believe they deserve. Whatever your goal is for this particular point, don’t worry so much, for as Baz Luhrman once said, “…worry, but know that worrying is  as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum…”. And if you need a little inspiration for this one check the original Baz Luhrman wisdom.

 

 

Staying Fit and Healthy

 

This one is one of the easiest things to do, the process though is hard, but that’s the point. This is one of those things that you only need determination to accomplish and nothing else. So if you think that a drill sergeant is just going to pop out of nowhere and order you to get fit, you better join the military because that happens literally zero times. Unless your dad or uncle are drill sergeants or something, but otherwise that doesn’t happen. So if you wish to stay fit and healthy, first you have to be determined to be it, and then you have to keep being determined to see your goal through, but set goals. Always set goals.

Some of us might need a little help accomplishing this. No shame in that, but if you prefer to do it alone then just follow conventional wisdom; for example, follow the food pyramid or try to at least, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Scrap sodas, junk food, and stay away from TV. Or at least, reduce those things to the minimum that you can. I guarantee that you will start feeling better. Oh and meditate. I’m not saying, pray. Meditate. The point of meditation is to get rid of all thought. It’s one of the hardest things you can do, but it is also a scientifically documented way for your mind to stay healthy also. Find a good balance in your life between the mental and the physical and I assure you, it will become an addiction. I hope you can accomplish this one, because happiness is contagious and if you’re happy, chances are the people around you will be too.

 

Learn Something New and Exciting

 

Again, this is an easy thing to do, all you need is the motivation to actually want to learn. Reduce your TV time to the least possible amount you can do, and pick up a few books. My opinion on this one is a bit biased since I adore reading and learning is a hobby of mine. And after you get over your low opinion of me as a geek, read the rest of this humble advice.

There’s an easy way to see this one through so that you don’t become overwhelmed to want to finish it all at once. Like all exercises, this can also become an exercise for your mind. Find subjects that you are passionate about and try to learn everything there is to learn about them. This will not only turn you into an expert on the subject, but it has the added benefit that it gets you interested in other things, because the more you learn about something the more you are likely to encounter other subjects that relate to it. That’s how the world is discovered.

Woman relaxing in chair

 

I’m going to let you into my little secret. Sometimes when I’m kinda burnt out with blogs, essays, books, and everything else around me, but I still want to learn one or two things, I visit this blog for quick pieces of interesting information- the equivalent to a midnight snack- and it always amuses me! Trust me you will not be disappointed. Of course if you’re looking for something more substantial there are many websites that can help you achieve your goal. Or you can simply take a trip to the library and read from this list of books that are some of the best ever written.

But you don’t have to take a trip anywhere if you have someone who has lived life. Older people have lived life and trust me when I say that they’ve been through some shit in their lives. So if you don’t feel like reading a book, watching an interesting movie, or sit in front of your computer for hours on end trying to find stuff to amuse you, just talk to an elder that you know and I’m sure you’ll learn some good stuff. Or if you want, travel! There’s no better way to learn interesting things than to see them for yourself, so enjoy life to the fullest (pun intended) and travel to learn something new and exciting!

 

Quit Smoking

 

My father used to say that once you start smoking, you never really quit. Not sure if that’s just a bit of old wisdom or if it’s bullshit, after all, both of my grandfathers quit smoking cold turkey after 40-some-odd years of keeping the habit. But I have seen that smoking is a really difficult thing to do for most people who start this disgusting bad habit. Unless you are Don Draper and you look super fucking cool doing it, smoking is probably one of the worst things you can do to yourself and others- and even then no one should do it.

Having said that, smoking, like any other drug, is a personal choice and being as such, no one will force you to quit just like no one (hopefully) forced you to start. But you should be aware that when it comes to smoking, 6 million people die yearly and it is the number one preventable cause of death worldwide. [3] Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if it only killed you, but that’s not the case. According to the CDC , second-hand smoke has killed 2.5 million non-smokers since 1964, so you might want to think twice before lighting up in front of your kids or anyone around you really. Smoking is not a scary thing, it’s what comes after it that should scare you.

But if you find that you are convinced to stop smoking, then there are several things you can do to stop. Apart from already taking unwanted help from the government such as paying way more for those little death sticks that you like and looking at pictures of rotten lungs and premature babies on cigarette packages, there are many products out there, both medically-prescribed and over the counter, that can help you quit smoking. But take it one day at a time, and find ways to de-stress yourself when you feel the urge to light up. But above all, don’t be shamed into quitting smoking, for that is extremely ineffective. It has to come from you.

 

Help Others in Their Dreams

 

When people make this their yearly resolution I don’t think they mean to Freddy-Kruger themselves into someone’s subconscious and help them escape the evil motherfucker. I also don’t think it’s meant as a taunt. Instead I think they mean to help other people achieve their dreams. This is a hard thing to do considering that most people alive today are not content with their own lives. I suggest that if you are serious about helping other people with their own dreams, that you make sure that you yourself are content enough with your life, or that at least know that helping other people has to come without conditions, that way you don’t feel like anyone owes you anything for helping them. Wouldn’t want to see you on “The People’s Court” trying to settle a money dispute with your friend of 20 years because one of you missed a stipulation in the rules.

It’s a noble thing to want to help other people, and it is ingrained in our DNA to want to be charitable (like it is to be violent) but just like any other “resolution” in this list, it too can be done anytime. You don’t need to wait for a new year, or any specific day, to donate money to a charity or to donate your time to help someone. I would suggest that if you really want to make the world a better place, don’t think of this goal as helping someone achieve their dreams, but rather just do one good deed every day, or every week even, for someone. Maybe buy a homeless person a meal, or donate food cans to your local shelter, or adopt an animal from the pound. There are hundreds of things you can do every week to accomplish this one, and the best part is that it will make you feel good, which will make you want to do more charitable things; as opposed of failing at helping someone achieve their dreams and feeling like shit. Maybe you’re a rare one and you’ll feel happy enough that you at least tried, but isn’t the point of these resolutions to see them through?

 

Fall in love

 

There’s a rather gross saying that goes like this, “Love is like a fart, if you have to force it, then it’s probably just shit”. As weird as that saying is, it’s true, falling in love is one of those things that you kinda just have to wait for it to happen, you can’t force it to happen. The great comedian Louis C.K. said it best… well instead of telling you, just watch this and laugh a bit…

So you see, falling in love is not as easy as it sounds. First you need to know a few things before you embark on this fairy tale of love.

First of all, fairy tales and cheesy ass romantic-movie endings where the celebrity couple that are meant to be together overcoming all obstacles finally falls in love at the end in this big cinematic kiss with the most unattainable landscapes as the background is just half the fucking tale. They never tell you that half of all marriages end in divorce. Or that the intoxicating romantic love you feel at the beginning of a relationship only lasts about a year. Or that men fall in love faster than women, which sucks for a guy. Or that the average woman only falls in love twice in her lifetime. All these inconvenient facts are not meant to scare you, I’m merely pointing out realities when it comes to loving someone and to show you that merely “loving” is not what it’s cracked up to be. Falling in love is a relatively easy thing to do, but actually loving someone past the point of boredom takes an enormous amount of effort to do and to make a relationship last, not only do you have to have a lot of patience but also put in 100% of what you got in it. Not 50%, 100%. Also you have to be willing to accept rejection and to accept defeat when a relationship is over. After all, it’s been heard of once or twice of how some people commit suicide from broken hearts. Again none of this is meant to discourage you to try to find love, after all falling in love is one of the best feelings anyone can ever feel, and I apologize if I already fucked up that desire for you, but just know that deciding to fall in love firstly is not as easy as wishing it, and secondly has consequences.

However if you really are dead-set on falling in love this year and you’re willing to try and make it happen out of the usual channels (i.e. meeting people at at the library, hitting on your waitress, wait for love to fall on your lap- all terrible ways to fall in love by the way) then there are channels that can facilitate that process. You could set up an account on a relationship website, or talk to a friend about setting you up on a blind date. It can happen, but you gotta be willing to take the punches on the road to falling in love. After all, no statistic ends up being 100% accurate. And if you start your resolution will a defeatist attitude, then you are betting against yourself and chances are you will not succeed.

This is one of those resolutions that requires time and dedication, but above all, patience. Oh and it’s okay to wait until you’re in a better economic, personal, or emotional situation to be in a relationship, but no one said anything about waiting to fall in love. That comes on its own, and nature will not ask for your permission to make you fall in love. Just make sure that it is love that you feel and not infatuation. Oh yeah, and make sure the other person loves you too. That’s the whole point.

 

Spend More Time With Family

 

And finally we have this little gem. Okay, unless you’re a soldier stationed overseas, or your work requires you to be away for several weeks or months at a time, you really don’t have much of an excuse not to spend time with your family. If you can help it, do it. And unlike some of these resolutions above, this one doesn’t require much time or effort, you simply have to make it happen. Then again, if you are trying to make this your goal, then you probably suck as a member of your family.

With advances in technology, it’s easier to get caught up in social media, and it’s very easy to drift away from those you love, but just remember that just like you aren’t immortal, the people who love you aren’t either. Nothing is permanent, and being a shitty human being to the only people who will be there pretty much the entirety of your life is not a good thing. Spending more time with your family doesn’t necessarily mean rationing your time to see your family, after all nobody likes a zombie at the dinner table with their nose in their goddamn phone. Quality, not quantity, is what counts here. People understand you are busy, but you can decide to make an effort whenever you are able to see your family even if it’s once a week or even once a month. Be polite to the people around you and understand that they miss you. And trust me  when I say that being missed by anyone is one of the biggest compliments ever, because that means that they enjoy your company, even if you’re an asshole (hopefully you aren’t).

Example, this past year I published a book, I started this blog, I completed about six different full-length courses; on top of that I have a full-time job, responsibilities, friends. At one point I felt like I barely had time to eat, shower, and sleep, let alone to see my own family. But I realized that it was important to see my mom, to call my dad, to be with my sister and little niece, and every chance I could I would try to make the best day of it, a couple of times I failed I will not deny it, but for the most part I tried to keep my phone in my pocket and to not watch TV at dinner time. And I have to say that I felt closer to my family these past couple of years, even in the limited times that I saw them (once, maybe twice a week) than when we all lived together. So if I can pass something on to you is that unless your relationship with your family is strained, or your responsibilities require you to be away, then you should make every effort possible to not just spend time with your family but to actually be there when you do. But most importantly, don’t wait until January 1st to do this, start now, and for your sake and the sake of everyone who you love and who loves you, try to make this resolution last a lifetime.

live your dream, love concept

And that’s it people, that is my humble advice for everyone should you decide to follow these clichés. Of course like I said before, you don’t need to be superstitious about it and wait until the start of a new year to do any of these, all you need is a little bit of help and a shitload of determination to see them through. Be the person that defies the odds, or at the very least, try your absolute hardest to get as far as you can even if it’s not until the end. Life is not a race, whole or in pieces, sooner or later we all get to the finish line, might as well try to make the best of it.

Oh and I dare you to come up with original resolutions that we can all follow, so if you feel like leaving some in the comment section below then more power to you friends!

I wish you all the best and good luck peeps! And Happy New Year!

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Bibliography

[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/ (statisticbrain.com, 12/28/14)

[2] http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/

[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/

And more info copy and paste these links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/7-ways-businesses-can-tak_b_4591098.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/21/psychology-of-lasting-love_n_5339457.html

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