Right from a very young age (read teenage years) I personally found the whole concept of making a resolution on New Year quite odd. My rationale was that if I had to do something and knew that it was important, then why wait till the New Year to actually resolve to do it. Wouldn’t I be better off by making a plan around what needed to be done and get started right away? The whole business of waiting for January 1st to arrive, and then go ahead and make a mental resolve to take action on the resolution simply didn’t make sense to me at all.
For example, if an obese person wanted to lose weight, then wouldn’t he be better off by reducing his fatty food intake and start exercising right away rather than wait for Diwali and Christmas season to go by and then start his fitness regime from January. I mean, it is common knowledge that the festival season, which in India runs from approximately October to November is when calorific excesses are at their peak. The obese person would be better off with a fitness regime in these months rather than starting off from January.
Or let’s take another example, this time, that of a smoker. If he wanted to quit smoking then why would he have to wait for New Year to do so? I mean, he could easily avoid the ‘wafting in holy smoke’ situation that would be an inevitable result of the drunken binge during the Christmas and New Year parties that he would have to attend. His lungs would obviously thank him for not having injected more tar, nicotine and 300+ other carcinogenic substances during these nights, right!
That being said, there are some areas in which New Year resolutions might actually help people stay on top of important things they need to keep in mind. From a professional perspective, resolutions such as staying more organized at work, keeping track of all the tasks to be done, becoming more meticulous at filing, these are some examples where actually New Year resolutions might work well.
In fact, there is this popular thought process where management gurus, motivational speakers and their ilk actually propagate the idea that writing down New Year resolutions, printing them out in fairly large font and actually putting them in one (or more) places where we get to see them everyday will increase our chances of sticking to them more. This, I personally think is a good idea where our resolutions are fairly simple and have a clear cut ‘cause and effect’ relationship, ie, the resolution is clear enough and our actions/inactions directly result in positive/negative action towards the same. The challenge here though is to be precise, concise and sharp enough to make the resolution at most 7-8 words long, and crystal clear enough to drive home the message everytime we see it.
To conclude, there probably is no one correct answer to the question as to whether New Year Resolutions are useful or not? It all depends on how badly the person wants (or does not want) a particular thing and how far this persons is willing to go to get (or get rid) of the end objective.
As for me, since I don’t make New Year Resolutions per se, I haven’t had to face a situation where I am happy for having achieved it or unhappy for having missed it.
===============All images in this post are sourced from Google Image search results for “new year resolutions”