We’re breathing the very last gasp of the holiday cycle. First it was the overeating celebration, where we shoved every last delicious morsel of multiple dinners in to our mouths and tried not to nap in front of the football game. Then, it was the winter holiday, where we all spent too much money or were upset that we couldn’t spend more money to demonstrate affection on our beloveds. Then, it was the year-end party where we bid adieu to last year with booze, food, and dancings. In the cold light of 2012, we took stock of the confetti-strewn, champagne soaked, glitterbomb of our lives and resolved to do better this year. On the heels of the self-focused 6-ish weeks, 40 to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. The top New Year’s resolutions are about weight loss, exercise, consuming less alcohol, quitting smoking cigarettes, finding the love of the your life, better money management and debt reduction. Further analysis shows exactly what we’re attempting to improve and how we’re only setting ourselves up to fail.
New Year’s Resolution: lose weight/exercise more/drink less:
We’re all fat and lazy, duh. We just spent the last six weeks shoving so much alternately delectable and downright awful food paired with heavy drinks and boozy bevies down our throats. All we have been doing is eating, drinking, watching holiday specials on tv, and shopping, which does not count for exercise. (Full disclosure: the author has a legit potbelly.) We live in a truly body-conscious society where we are not considered attractive even to ourselves until we’re living up to a Hollywoodized or Photoshopped standard of beauty-slash-reality. Let it go. Beauty is in brains, not butts or abs or chiseled upper arms. Start doing interesting things that lead to connections with others through foundation-building conversation over beers or coffee or dinner. In creating something other than your body to focus on, the depths of personality, dreams, goals, and offerings can be discovered and then shared.
New Year’s Resolution: fall in love/find the perfect partner
This resolution equates human relationships to car keys. Love is not something to be found; it’s a state of being, of creating and then nurturing. Of course we all want companionship but emphasizing the necessity of the existence of a relationship for happiness is not a sound foundation for a healthy involvement.
These resolutions are so self-focused and so individualistic, there’s barely any room for anyone else to squeeze in their goals. It’s no surprise that 75 percent of these resolutions are not maintained past the first week of making them.
Seventy-five percent of resolutions are not maintained past the first week of making them. Of the remaining 25 percent of resolutions, 71 percent do not survive the second week. These resolutions are so self-focused and so individualistic, there’s barely any room for anyone else to squeeze in their goals. Then everyone forgets or decides their pledges are too hard and reverts to their same old selves. Currently, we’re reaching that time in the new year where we give up on, or are about to abandon, improving ourselves and revert back to the lonely, lazy, boozy person we were at the end of 2011. Instead of trying to fix ourselves, failing, and then beating ourselves up about it, let’s consider a new concept of resolutions for this New Year. Let’s endeavor to better society for everyone, not just our individual selves.
So this 2012, let go of feelings of depression about the current failure of self-improvement, and declare that we revolutionize (or reform) the resolution process and determine goals we can actually achieve. If we endeavor to better society, we will find ourselves inspired, engaged, and meeting a host of new people at the same time.
New Year’s Revolution: Improve Society, however you like:
If uncertain of where to start, start with yourself. Determine what interests you.
§ If you’re interested in helping animals or animal rights, meet your local animal rescue group and ascertain what’s needed.
§ If your jam is helping others through nonprofit organizations in areas like arts and culture, homelessness, seniors, health and medicine, crisis support, etc, check out Volunteer Match. Volunteer Match links up individuals with groups sharing their goals.
§ If politics and improving life for everyone across a range of topics and practices speaks to you, investigate your local Occupy movement. The Occupy movement has over 1,505 global operations aimed at raising political consciousness, empowering the general public, holding elected officials accountable, proffering solutions for improving society, among other undertakings. To find your local occupation, see OccupyTogether.org/actions. By involving yourself in your local Occupy movement, even just by tipping a toe into the waters of revolution by reposting or retweeting information, you’re still participating and strengthening a network of informed individuals. For further involvement, consider attending the public General Assembly, where committees present ideas, working groups are formed, and issues are voted on.
The key in revolutionizing (or reforming) the resolution process is that this goal is not about you. It’s not about dropping 20 pounds, quitting smoking, or striking up conversation with the attractive person at the bar; it’s about bettering society and finding yourself improved as a by-product. Once we as a culture realize this society doesn’t have to remain so individualistic and that the goals of one can interconnect with the goals of many, we can truly begin self-improvement.