Why I Don’t Make New Years Resolutions

It’s a new year. Time to cast off our old selves and become something new.

Almost all of us try to do just that this time of year, to cast aside the parts we don’t like and become who we dream we could be. We promise ourselves–we resolve–really to do it this year, to make ourselves better. We’re going to:

  • Lose weight;
  • Get in shape;
  • Drink less;
  • Eat less;
  • Spend more time with our family;
  • Work harder;
  • Start the book;
  • Finish the book;
  • Find a new job;
  • Get control of our money;
  • Loosen up with our money;
  • Talk to that girl, or that guy;
  • A hundred other things we want to improve about ourselves.

They’re all noble goals. But with a few exceptions, they never happen. Not because we lack the desire, or the ability, or the courage to make them happen–it’s because we expect too much of the new year, too much of ourselves. We expect the obstacles that kept us from doing it last year will somehow be gone because it’s a new year, so when they’re not, when they’re still waiting to trip us up, we let them. We throw up our hands and give up, because with everything else that’s going on in our lives, they just don’t seem so important.

After all, who has time to lose twenty pounds? There’s work to be done. We have to keep food on the table, and it would be selfish to take time away from that just to take care of ourselves.

And by the time we’ve gotten to that stage, by the time we’ve thrown up our hands and let last year’s patterns continue, it’s easier just to keep going the way we always have.

That makes us feel guilty, makes us sad, makes us feel less. What kind of people are we if we can’t even lose twenty pounds?

So we spend the next eleven months feeling awful about ourselves, until next New Year, when we double our resolve. And fail again.

I don’t reject the desire to make myself better. The day I stop wanting to make myself better, It’ll be time to die.

I reject the idea that I can become better based on a fuzzy resolution, a vague desire without a plan to make it happen.

I reject the idea that I am a failure because I failed to accomplish my fuzzy resolutions.

Most of all, I reject the idea that I can only improve myself at the beginning of the year.

Instead, I choose to set goals. See, it takes planning to reach goals–and we can adjust the plan if it doesn’t seem likely to get us there, or even adjust the goal if it no longer makes sense. We can set goals any time of the year, any time we feel like we need to improve something.

We’ll talk more about goals later this month. For now, consider this: a resolution makes us powerless. A goal puts power in our hands.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.