We’re five days into 2021 and to say that life as we enter the new year has been a breath of fresh air would be a complete overstatement. It feels just like yesterday when I was telling my friends 2020 was going to be the best year ever. There was something about the number. A repetition of twos and zeros, the way they were so perfectly aligned next to each other, how they were spoken so naturally, it all felt and sounded so right. I was adamant to make 2020 my most unforgettable year yet. While I hadn’t quite solidified my welcoming plans for 2020, I had a brief idea of what it was going to look like.
Stating the obvious I was going to start hitting the gym, finally get over a confusing relationship, do better with organizing finances, etc. you know the gist. But then we’ve been hit with an unprecedented pandemic that put the world at halt. As much as I’d like to believe I managed to stick with my “plans” for 2020 before we saw the crux of the matter, that wasn’t the case. By the third week or so, breathing was my definition of working out, I was running back to the person who I knew wouldn’t love me and spending as if there was no tomorrow (although it sure felt like it at that time).
I was never the type to make concrete New Year’s resolutions but my overjoy and anticipation of 2020 made me believe that things will change 360 degrees in the new year. Now that I’m a year older, I look back and realize ‘Yup, resolutions just aren’t my thing’. And these are the reasons why.
New Year’s resolutions are superficial
Common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, drink less alcohol, etc. but what do we truly want? While resolutions work to our benefit in terms of promoting a healthy lifestyle, a lot of the times it does the opposite to our mental health. While it’s hard to admit, New Year’s resolutions have become less of a promise to ourselves and instead about perception and how the image we want to create for others. Here’s a food for thought, If the goals we made were truly for ourselves wouldn’t we want to be doing our best consistently regardless of situation or time, not just because it’s the new year?
Motivation diminishes over time
I remember learning the theory of ‘diminishing returns’ in one of my economic class back in high school. To explain the concept my teacher would give every student a piece of chocolate and told us to eat it straight away. As soon as we devoured the chocolate, she gave us another piece. Then another, and another until the chocolate tasted sickly. It taught us the decrease in marginal output or in this case the joy of consuming chocolates in class, while the amount of chocolate increased, ceteris paribus. We’d still enjoy the chocolates but just not as much as the previous piece. The reason I bring this concept out is that the theory can be applied in most aspects of life. The return of satisfaction when we achieve a milestone in our goals doesn’t weigh the same as the initial satisfaction. In other words, it becomes harder for us to be satisfied, making us reluctant to push ourselves towards the goal.
Many things are beyond our control
Going back to the theory of diminishing returns, as we gradually work through our resolutions, we’re bound to be disappointed at our progress at some point and it becomes harder to pick ourselves up again. When we start doubting the process because we couldn’t stick to a certain set of rules we get disappointed. Then we start stressing out because we’re disappointed, which only leads to going back to old habits. Repeat some of this cycle and just maybe you’ll persevere through it all. But when you dive into something from the get-go and expect to reach the end goal within a year, you’re hurting yourself more than actually helping yourself.
Now that I have these insights on why resolutions have been so unsuccessful for me in the past, will I be making improved new year’s resolutions for 2021? The answer is still no. As your stereotypical Type B personality, I enjoy the flexibility of adapting to the changes that I feel is appropriate if and when I need to. When we look too much into the bigger picture, we often forget to enjoy the process and the small successes and even the failures that come with it. Therefore, if needs must, I suppose a quote that I will try to live by this year is “Let it be” .