Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009

Hi Poppets! Here it is, 2009. Amazing, isn’t it? Something brand new is beginning. I mean, the world has never seen 2009 before. It’s a time to look forward, a time of fresh starts, a time to leave the past behind us and move forward, fresh, clean and scrubbed shiny. Everything you hated about your life, your job, your body, yourself can be different now, right? At least, that’s what the gyms and the diet centers and the online colleges and the employment agencies and, and, and…and we, ourselves, tell us this time every year.

New Year Resolutions are so common they are practically part of our culture. Depending on the study you read, anywhere between 50% and 90% of us have made at least one resolution based on the turning of the calendar. For most of us, that resolution will be about weight, smoking or finances. Yet the breaking of the New Year Resolutions long about March is so common it’s clichéd. Again, depending on the study, anywhere between 85% and 95% of resolutions are broken. We won’t stick to our diets and workouts, quit smoking or start saving. You know why? Because New Year Resolutions don’t work. There is nothing different or magical about this time of year that makes a personal change any more effective or long-lasting than it would be on some random Tuesday in April. What is different – though hardly magical – is the pressure on us this time of year to make a change. And it’s that pressure, that sense of false possibility, that bothers me.

There’s the societal pressure to make the resolution. There’s the fact that making a resolution inherently includes pressure to keep said resolution. Then there’s the personal pressure. Is there ever personal pressure. First, we beat ourselves up over the weight, smoking, spending, insert your own issue here for the past several months (years, maybe?) to the point that we need to make a resolution about it. Then we put pressure on ourselves for the next several days or weeks to keep the resolution – even though we haven’t been able to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, insert your own issue here, up until now. Oh. Don’t forget the continued lectures about weight, smoking, money, whatever, that are probably continuing in spite of the resolution. Are we having fun yet? Finally, if the pressure actually gets to us and we quit on the resolution (which, to reiterate, 85-95% of us will), there are the stronger lectures and increased dislike of ourselves and our issue than there were before we made the resolution in the first place. And hey, I want to start a new year with self-loathing and recrimination! Whoo-hoo!

I think we have enough people willing to beat us up, call us names, and make us feel less-than without us helping them. I think we have already found reasons enough to beat ourselves up, call ourselves names and make ourselves feel less-than without giving us another one. All buying into the New Year Resolution does is set yourself up to fail. Maybe it’s me, but I can fail often enough all on my own without setting myself up to do it.

Don’t get me wrong. In all seriousness, I am staunch believer in personal growth. If there is something you want to change about your life, you have my support. Just don’t buy into the fact that it has to happen right now or that it is supposed to be easier somehow right now. If you really want to change something, think about picking a date later this month or early February. Change it because you want to change it and because you’re ready to change it. Otherwise, love and accept yourself the way you are, faults and all. Now that’s a resolution I can get behind.

Until next month, Poppets, take care of you.


Dennis R. Upkins said...

Very well said. As always.

CrackerLilo said...

Something people need to read as the resolutions start breaking like so much glass! I deliberately don't make resolutions, but I feel this sense of heightened hope and anticipation every year anyway.

I think that the diets, etc. are a way to bring balance into our lives after all the decorations and rich food over the December holidays. (Which, of course, we do because it's gloomy and we want to remind ourselves that life is still good.) The pendulum swings way over in one direction, then way over to the other, and then, hopefully, settles by February.