You Don't Have To Wait For New Year's To Make Your Life Better

You Don't Have To Wait For New Year's To Make Your Life Better

I don't like New Year's resolutions and here's why.

Caroline Turpen

The first week of January, year in and year out, well-meaning people with great enthusiasm want to go around the circle and say what everyone's New Year's Resolution is. Although I am the holly-est, jolliest person I know for Christmas, and I decorate way too early and start listening to Christmas songs before Thanksgiving, I fully admit to being the New Year's Grinch. In fact, I hate New Year's resolutions so much that here I am, a month in advance, taking time out of my favorite holiday season to complain about my least favorite holiday's most ubiquitous tradition.

My biggest point of contention with New Year's resolutions is that our entire year system is contrived and frankly arbitrary. In the grand scheme of things, although the date changes, nothing really makes January 1st different from any other day. Therefore, I see no reason to wait until then to make positive changes.

For example, I used to have a 32-ounce Yeti of iced coffee made with milk and caramel syrup every morning. Delicious, but decidedly unhealthful. In October, I replaced the milk with almond milk and the caramel syrup with a drizzle of honey. I feel like it lets the iced coffee be the thing I get excited about, as opposed to the sugar hit. Fantastic change, and worked just as well in October. Although this change was ideal subject matter for a New Year's resolution, I'm glad I didn't subject my pancreas to an additional three months of overtime just to accommodate a pointless tradition.

If you are going to start working out, you should start now, as opposed to January 1st. The gym is going to be unbelievably crowded the first week of January (which only makes me, a year-round worker-outer, more Grinch-y), so you might get discouraged and fed up if you wait until then. But if you know how it usually is because you started working out now, you will be more grounded in the reality that very few of these people are going to be here by the third week of January and thus you won't have the "It's too crowded" excuse for not working out. Not only that, if you are already fit, you won't feel the need to curb your eating as much over the holidays (though gluttony should always be avoided whether you work out or not).

I feel like for me personally, the chances of success are a lot lower for my past New Year's resolutions than for positive changes I make year-round. Research shows that I am not alone in this: merely 8% of New Year's resolutions are kept. I think that one reason may be that I have the tendency to make two or three positive changes at once, which makes them harder to stick with because it adds up to a lot more work. It would be better to make one positive change in January, a new one on April 1st, and then one after that on July 1st. The experts agree with me on this.

I suppose one reason some people may like to wait until New Year's is procrastination. It's like hitting the snooze button on what you know you should be doing. I'm personally very familiar with procrastination and am intimately familiar with how destructive it can be for your goals. If this is your motivation for waiting until New Year's, you're shooting yourself in the foot unless you deal with that procrastination now. Nothing will magically change once the ball drops on New Year's Eve. If you wait until then to implement a good habit, then on January 2nd, you will still be a procrastinator (unless you change now) and you will wait until later that day, then tomorrow, then the next day to do what you need to do, until it slips through your fingers and you reason there's nothing else to do except wait until next year. If you're a procrastinator, that is the first bad habit you should kick to the curb, because it is what stands between you and your other goals. Clearly, New Year's resolutions enable procrastination and self-delusion, giving me one more reason to hate them.

I don't object to traditions and self-improvement per se, but I do object to incompetency and anything that fails 92% of the time for reasons that are not inherently bad or wrong. Say the experts, "...the average person has so many competing priorities that this type of approach is doomed to failure. Essentially, shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, you end up failing to launch in the first place." By this, they mean that the reason people tend not to do as well when they make multiple resolutions is that we are busy and usually have too much on our plate to do all the work necessary for a new year, new me. That's not a bad thing at all. But unless you are going to say that we can only make one positive change to our lives per year, which would be silly, it serves my larger point that we need not wait for New Year's to improve our lives.

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