Live BlogWhen the Huxleyan soma-holiday of 2012’s glorious recollection slips away into oblivion at the drop of a silver ball and a drunken chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” 2013 New Year’s resolutions will officially be underway. And so long as the Mayans didn’t have very attuned powers of revelation, it will be a time of year that will nonetheless prove disappointing for many.
This year, millions will make New Year’s resolutions in the name of self-improvement — and millions will fail. This has led many to deem them completely pointless. But, to be fair, New Year’s resolutions do have a point, and that point is to seep any and all pride and optimism you have from within and turn you into an uptight, dejected human being for breaking a carefully crafted promise you made to yourself. Bah humbug.
Many may desire to lose a few pounds, quit a bad habit or improve their standard of living at work or at home. But a couple weeks into their pact, countless resolution-setters slack. And when that Stairmaster starts to look more like an M.C. Escher drawing by the end of January, it’s check-out time and the 11-month wait kicks in until next year’s façade of self-improvement commences. But if the resolutions can be so easily abandoned, how much do they really mean?
Setting personal goals is no doubt a worthwhile endeavor. But it should be done for the betterment of self, not because it’s trendy this time of year or because every self-help columnist with a six-inch soapbox is writing the next “Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2013.” When they are made for haphazard reasons simply for the sake of making them, you can’t sincerely expect the result to come to fruition and disappointment will inevitably ensues.
Wouldn’t it be easier to simply stick to a script to which you were deeply devoted? Yes, but this other side of the coin presents just as wary a case for engaging in the annual Olympics of personal quantum leaps. Because if you were deeply devoted to your resolution, whether it is for the sake of health of others or just for the hell of it, why must you do it in accordance with an arbitrary timeline? If you’re going to stand on a desk and shout “Carpe diem,” why force yourself to wait until Jan. 1 to start?
It’s easy to be the pessimistic prognosticator when you don’t make New Year’s resolutions yourself. But a simple wholesale effort to be a better person is good enough for me. It’s what we should aim for every day. And it is part of a comprehensive effort that strays from irrational reasons and doesn’t require some capricious start time.
So, when yoga mats begin to collect dust again and you dig through the freezer for that chocolate ice cream, remember that it’s not the end of the world. Many are extensive ambitions, which, in the grand scheme of things, are not worth the trouble. There is no need to make yourself feel worse off if you aren’t truly committed to such commonly formed goals.
So this holiday season, make that list, check it twice, then crumple it up and throw it away. That’s the perfect New Year’s resolution.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Dec. 11 print edition. Chris DiNardo is opinion editor. Email him at [email protected]