by. Conner Allen
The first of January marks a personal rebirth for most Americans. It’s when a vendetta is taken up against vices and fresh, new virtues are pursued. Unwanted habits are abruptly abstained from while attempts are made to implement more positive, healthy behaviors into an individual’s life. These actions, done annually at the start of each new year, are said to be both beneficial and refreshingly introspective for those people who involve themselves in the process. I, however, am not one of these people.
Every year during my childhood, by 12:05 AM on January 1, 199X, a rolled up slip of paper containing my New Year’s
resolution was slipped into a frosted glass jar. Unfortunately a child’s dedication is not lost lasting and that slip of paper is quickly forgotten, the resolution contained on it left unfulfilled. In time, my interest in this process slipped away as I became more aware of the constituent circum- stances involved in the time-honored tradition of New Year’s resolutions. While I fully acknowledge that my instinctual distrust and distaste for anything done in mass unison may contribute to my lack
of involvement in the resolution process, there are three distinct reasons for my personal separation from this tradition:
#1 The brevity associated with New Year’s projects, goals and efforts.
With every resolution made, there seems to be a myriad of articles attempting to encourage people to complete their chosen changes (in fact, a great one can be found within this publication). What people want on December 31st, they forget about or lack the desire to finish by the end of January. An uncompleted project, such as most New Year’s resolutions, is as bad as (if not worse than) one that wasn’t started. Among the most common resolutions made are a desire to improve gym
attendance and the decision to quit smok- ing. The annual spike in January’s gym memberships is expected and budgeted for by gyms around the country. During the first week of the year my local gym
is full of New Year’s hopefuls attempting to lose ten or twenty, but before February comes the room will have returned to its usual number of occupants. Smokers hold out, but not for long; every year, January and February show the lowest number of cigarette sales, only to rise back to normal sales rates by March. In all, less than 10% of those who make New Year’s resolutions say they are successful.
In the same way that I don’t buy shares of failing companies, or join a failing teams, I also don’t participate in failing traditions.
#2 The resolution process is a clear demonstration of human inability
A talented pianist once demonstrated his hard earned musical skills to a crowd. One attentively listening man was particularly moved and, after the performance, he talked to the pianist. “That was incredible! I have always wanted to learn to play the piano like that,” the listener enthusiasti- cally said to the musician. The pianist, glancing up from gathering his sheet mu- sic, responded to the man, “if you really wanted to, then you would have.”
The formality of the resolution tradition necessitates, at least for me, a compari- son to others who participate. This is a depressing process when consulting the statistics of New Year life-changing. This process is made all the more poignant when supplemented by personal experiences of those around us. Both you and I, dear reader, know well the person who aspires valiantly for personal betterment only to fail soon thereafter.
It is clear to me that those who resolve to make changes in their life, obviously desire to amend and improve upon their
circumstances. Then, I ask, why do nearly all fail at this annual refreshment of
their lives? I make, perhaps, an unfair generalization by saying it is because of inability. Either the goal is too grand or the attempt is inadequate. Either way, January is the month of failure for 90% of Americans.
#3 Personal Enrichment doesn’t need a timetable
An early adopter of the New Year’s resolution tradition was a man named Jonathan Edwards. Raised in the puritan community (the community which can
be credited with creating the tradition of annual reflection during the time of the New Year), Edwards began to write his resolutions down, attempting to preserve the improvements he wished to make. However, unlike most who participate in this effort, Edwards didn’t contain his self reflection to December 31st. Rather, he appreciated the importance of this efficacious process and practiced it throughout the year. Annually, Edwards wrote 35 or 40 resolutions which he consistently referred to throughout
Unlike Mr. Edwards, the American populous seems to require a blank slate with which to do something new and productive in their lives. Ignoring the seemingly arbitrary delineation of time set by the Gregorian calendar, the New Year marks the perfect opportunity. Instead of constantly considering how to improve their lives, most people designate the last few hours of the year to this process and consider the process complete.
In a similar manner as John Edwards (and most of America on New Years) I too appreciate the importance of self-improvement. I however, prefer the process to be personal, and unbound by traditional timeframes.