Certainly, resolution is a desirable quality in a human being. The ability to put one’s heart and mind to a task and stick to that mission, even in the face of adversity, is admirable. Parents do their best to teach this to their children. If you had some trouble learning to ride a bike or to tie your shoe, you remember that someone told you to keep practicing. Teachers reinforce the notion, too. They tell their students that what they put into something is what they get out. In our books, movies, and songs, a great victory typically comes at the price of some failure, some sacrifice, and a whole heaping pile of resolution.
Annually–you may have even done this last night and are regretting it even this morning as you contemplate going to the gym or drinking a kale smoothie or planning a budget (God help you)—many people make a New Year’s resolution. People take advantage of the calendar’s end/beginning point to resolve all sorts of things. From quitting smoking to falling in love, a lot of Americans make a resolution. And an even bigger and more impressive “a lot” fail at them. About half of the country makes one. How many succeed? A ridiculous 8% achieve their resolution.1 Wow! That is a significant amount of disappointment. I mean that is a terrifically huge number of folks not getting what they say they want. No wonder we seem so unhappy. Half of us don’t care to improve and the rest of us fail at it.
All that failure can’t be good for us as humans or as Americans. So, here is my proposal. Don’t make a New Year’s resolution; make a New Year’s aspiration. I aspire to eat a healthy diet. I aspire to become more financially viable. I aspire to learn to play the guitar. I aspire to be a non-smoker. In this way, you allow yourself the luxury of failures and setbacks without the cliff of doom looming in the foreground.
When the inevitable occurs and you binge on an extra-large supreme pizza and three sleeves of Oreo cookies on January 19th, you don’t have to see it as the end of days. You are not a failure but rather an aspirant on a path. This makes January 20th a better day for you. It is forever your choice to get back onto the track. Or, you can even choose a new track, as long as your train keeps moving forward.
Let me know how it goes, and remember, life is work and that is good.
Happy New Year, everybody. Go forth unafraid, and aspire!
1 I found my stats at Statistic Brain, but bunches and bunches of legit journals and news sites report similar numbers.