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Do You Make New Years Resolutions?

Like every other Query, this one turned out to be more interesting than I anticipated.  I really had no preconceived ideas about what people would say, and I was pretty curious.  If I thought anything, it was that the responses would be about 50/50 “Yes” and “No”.

Ultimately, of the people I talked to, more of them do not make resolutions.  The general consensus was, “Why make a resolution you’re not going to stick to?”  But there were stronger opinions, as well:

New Years’ Resolutions are simply something that somebody started, that caught on, that no one follows up on.  That’s all that it is…it’s a fake promise…hollow words.  So I don’t do them.

That response made an impression on me, I think because I’ve been feeling so optimistic about the resolutions that I made.  It seemed a rather dark comment, cynical, as though a person might make a resolution purposely to deceive.  I don’t mean to say that’s how the comment was meant.  I don’t know how it was meant, and I wish I had asked.  

And then there’s this:

Sometimes for me, when you say you have a New Years Resolution, it doesn’t have a positive connotation.  It’s almost like you know you haven’t met your goal, you’re not living up to your potential, or you’re not doing things the way you should be doing them.  So you make this resolution to do better, or whatever, knowing the whole time that you’re not going to do better.  But it’s almost like, here, I’m going to make this resolution – I’ve been failing at it all these years, or whatever, but I’m going to make this resolution and I’m not going to fail at it again.  Then the first week, you’ve failed at it again.

That’s daunting.  And for me, that’s familiar.  I have felt that in the past, and it’s why I stopped making resolutions so long ago: they were just one more thing to feel bad about.  Even as I wrote the resolution, I was telling myself that I would fail.  But that goes back to optimism and belief in yourself.

As I said, I’m feeling more optimistic this year, and that’s what prompted me to make a few resolutions.  I think attitude has a lot to do with it, and just who you are in general – all the variables exist for this question as for anything we do in our lives: personality type, life situation, mental and emotional state, etc.  You have to know yourself and act accordingly.

For some, it is or would be an empty promise, hollow words. For some, it would be a waste of time, a futile exercise, because they don’t really want to do these things and will let them fall by the wayside pretty quickly.  For some, it’s just a matter of making the decision to work really, really hard.  But for some, making a resolution ends up being an emotional kick in the gut, because these are things that they want to do or change, but they don’t know how or they don’t have the physical, emotional, financial, mental, spiritual – whatever – resources to make it happen.  

And for some, it’s just a matter of course: these are the things I want to work on, so let me get started.


Here is what some other people said:

Nadia:  I do, just because I feel like it’s a tradition, but I don’t usually keep them.  But as I get older, I try to make ones I can keep, rather than to make one just to make it.  I don’t usually write it, but I usually tell people so I can be held accountable.  If no one knew, then it would be easier to just break it.

Jessica:  I don’t make New Years resolutions…I’m lazy.  I’m not gonna do it.  I can say that all the time, but I’m not gonna do it.  I’ll do it for like two days and then I’ll quit.

Amanda B.:  Yes.  It’s a goal that I set for myself, which mine is to eat a whole lot healthier and to exercise more.

Abena:  I don’t usually make New Year resolutions, because I never keep them.  I just put in my mind that by the end of  this year I want to do this, I want to maybe lose this amount of weight, or…do something, you know, maybe something I’ve never done before, I want to go somewhere.  But I mean, I don’t put so much pressure on myself…you know, that if I don’t do it, it’s the end of the world, so I don’t make it like a resolution.  I just say,  I’d like to do this.

Aleisha:  Yes, I do.  I try to stick with them…because most people make one and never stick with it, and I try to be the one who sticks with it.

Jim:  No.  I’m not one that needs to be prompted by a calendar to do something.

Gloria:  I want to be healthier in 2012, that’s why I’m going to the gym.  Normally, I just improve mistakes I made in the past.  I am looking forward to a better love life this year.

Kyle:  No.  I don’t know…I just don’t.  I guess I kinda made one not to drink soda anymore.  But I didn’t make it until a week later.

Dominique:  Not any more.  I don’t see the point; it’s just New Years.
–Donna:  She sounds so enthusiastic.
Dominique:  But it’s definitely gonna be a better year than 2011!  So, I’m optimistic.  I see the light.

Carleigh:  No.  I don’t, because I never follow through with them.  It’s a waste of time.  Like, you go on Facebook and see all these people with resolutions on there…and two weeks later, they’re broken.  If they last that long.

Martha:  No.  ‘Cause I don’t stick with them, so why make ’em?
–Michelle:  How about you guys?
Jacque:  I don’t make them.
–Michelle:  Why?
Jacque:  Well, for one thing, I can’t keep up with what I have to do, much less making a resolution to do what I don’t do good better, you know.  And it’s depressing when you fail.
–Tom:  Here’s the thing: “New Years Resolutions” is a game for the young, because with youth, there’s hope.
Michelle:  You don’t have no hope left?
–Tom:  (laughing)  No…with age, you start running out of hope.
Jacque:  With me it’s not New Years resolution, it’s just hoping to get through the day.

Donna:  I would say no.  ‘Cause I usually don’t stick to them when I make them.

Sharon:  No, ’cause I think it’s stupid.  Nobody ever keeps them.  And if you do make them, everyone makes the same ones, so the gym is overcrowded, or it’s to quit smoking, et cetera.  I’ve been going to the gym all along, and January rolls around and here come all the band-wagoners taking up the machines that I’ve been using all along.

Amanda H:  No.  How come?  Because I’ll never stick to ’em and there’s no point.

Lynn:  Yes.  ‘Cause I’m thankful to be alive for another year, and I always try to better myself.
–Michelle:  Do you sit down and make a list, or do you just think in your head that “these are the things I want to accomplish this year”.
Lynn:  I make a list.
–Michelle:  Do you normally do it…
Lynn:  Yes.
–Michelle:  …why would I even ask that question…
Amanda H:  It’s Lynn!
–Michelle:  …of course she does.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love New Year and the feeling of getting to start over, even if it’s really no different from any other day of your life, but I rarely make formal resolutions. I like to think about where I am and consider something I could do to make my life better somehow. In the past, resolutions always seemed like rules and things that needed to be enforced, so I rarely kept them. Now I’m pretty much happy to celebrate another year of being around!

    January 12, 2012
    • Maybe that’s part of it – having that list, like rules, stare at you, telling you what a bad girl you are. I’m doing pretty good with some, but others are already making me feel bad a little bit.

      I agree that being alive even to think about doing a better job with my life is really enough.

      January 12, 2012
  2. I don’t think about New Year’s itself, much. But there is something about January as a whole that appeals to me. The light feels different, and things seem clean.

    I’m not feeling much hope these days so it really cheers me up to read your posts. I’m glad you are feeling optimistic. You are buoying me up…thank you!

    January 12, 2012
    • I used to be more excited about New Years when I was younger. I think it was just the excitement of the night and the ball dropping and the number of the year changing. Then it was the passing of a decade and then the passing from one millenium to the next. I still think that that is a pretty big deal to live through. Just to think of all that the world has gone through in the past 1000 years, all that mankind has gone through. And to imagine what the next 1000 years will bring.

      But being excited for going from 2011 to 2012 for it’s own sake? Not so much.

      Now I’m more like what you said. For me, it’s the idea of change and especially new beginnings that January represents. I feel the same thing in the spring and the fall.

      I don’t feel optimistic every day, or even every hour. But I feel optimistic for my future. I feel that the path I’m on is the right one. It’s overgrown and full of brambles and I have to cut my way through most of it, but it’s the right way. I know because I can see the light shining through the branches. Keeping that light in sight and reminding myself that I’m optimistic doesn’t hurt any! It’s so easy for me to give up. I can’t afford to let myself forget what optimism feels like.

      January 12, 2012
  3. I guess I would have to say no, but I make a mental list of things that would be nice to do or have happen. I tend to not follow through though. I also fail to plan and that’s a plan that fails. Some I never even start, so if I don’t start I didn’t really fail? I have kept my thankfulness page going, but even that has become a grind some times, especially now that it is winter. I struggle on.

    January 24, 2012
    • Following through has always been my downfall, too. I am good at planning, but once that’s over and the work begins, that’s where I fall short. I don’t want to do the work. I’m trying really hard this year (it may not appear so from the outside, but it’s true) to do a better job with my life and improve the things that I targeted on my list. And to follow through with the work. I’m finding that the more I work on things and see improvement, the more motivated I am to keep going and put in the work.

      I found it increasingly hard to keep up daily with the Thankful pages, so I switched to a weekly update. But I don’t want to lose any momentum I’ve gained in that area, so that is a concern for me. I need to do something a little extra at this point to make sure it’s still a daily mindset. Actually, you commented at just the right time, as I had planned on doing a Practicing Thankful update post for tomorrow, and you’re being here is a good motivator for me to make sure I get that done and posted.

      January 25, 2012

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