The Case Against New Year’s Resolutions

Posted December 30, 2010

From Thanksgiving through Christmas we’re sucked into a whirlwind of gorging on humongous family feasts, blowing our budget on holiday gifts, and partaking in revelry at lots of holiday parties. Everything builds to the dramatic crescendo of New Year’s Eve, when we stay up later and party harder than any other night.

It’s no surprise that against this backdrop of massive overindulgence everyone is guilted into making a sweeping series of resolutions for better behavior in the new year.  We’ll eat better, exercise more, watch our finances more carefully, etc.

I used to make a bunch of resolutions every year, and even write them down.  When I invariably failed to achieve them all, I’d schedule quarterly reminders.  Like that helped.  And its no fun being confronted with your under-achieving self at such a festive time as New Year’s Eve.

The problem is that resolutions are extra credit, stuff above and beyond what we’re already doing.  Nobody makes a resolution to stay at their current weight, for example, which is probably a challenge as it is.  And because we’ve got a whole year to complete our resolutions, we tend to aim high.  You’re not going to lose a pound or two, you’re going to drop five or ten.  On the business front, you’re not going to survive or grow by 5%, you want to grow by 30%. So unfortunately, the whole resolution business is doomed to failure.  It’s like betting against the house in Vegas: you may get lucky once in a while, but in the long run you have no chance.  The only difference is that you have a lot of fun in Vegas.

And just in case you’re pretty happy with where you are personally, or with your business, there’s a non-stop torrent of self-help books, business blogs, and the like telling you what to do better. All excellent fodder for the Resolution Express.

Another problem with resolutions is that in today’s society, in order to lead a good, fulfilling life, the media gives us such an impossibly long and agonizingly detailed regimen to follow, that practically everyone walks around feeling some angst when they invariably come up short.  Next year, we kid ourselves, we’ll pick up the slack.

Take health for example.  When I go for my annual physical, my doctor asks me how many servings of fruits and vegetables I get a day.  I tell him two, if I’m lucky.  He counters that I should have five.  I remind him there are only three meals in a day, but the math doesn’t throw him.  “You really should have five”, he says with a straight face.  “Try to snack on an apple or a bag of carrots.”  Uh huh.

If you want to feel inadequate at event planning, subscribe to Jeff Hurt’s blog, MidCourse Corrections.  Every time I look at my laptop it seems there’s a new post by Jeff, listing 10 trends in conference planning I need to know about, or 5 things speakers do wrong at meetings, or 7 reasons attendees are falling asleep at our programs.  It’s all good stuff, and Jeff’s one of our industry’s great minds, but let me tell ya, you have no chance of implementing everything he recommends; it’s just too much. You’re lucky if you integrate 10% of his ideas, and the truth is he’d probably say that’s just fine.  But of course you look at the 90% you can’t get to and see the flashing neon “Under-Achiever” sign in your mind.

Overwhelming isn’t it?  With all these standards that we fall short of, it’s a miracle we actually make it through the year at all.  But instead of giving ourselves a pat on the back for those things we did get right, we make a list of all the things we neglected to do and come up with resolutions for next year.

So here’s my suggestion. Get out of the resolutions racket altogether.  Simply be happy you made it through another year.  If you absolutely have to make a New Year’s resolution, it better be a real life-altering one, though I would argue that if you need to wait until New Year’s to put it on your to do list, you’re not off to a good start.

So, on the personal side, if you’re a heroin addict, getting yourself into detox is a worthy resolution.  But if your goal is to cut back on those orders of Buffalo wings, don’t even bother.  Just try to appreciate your friends and family as much as possible.  And on the business front, just take super-good care of your best clients and employees; in the end you can’t go wrong by doing that.

8 COMMENTS

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  1. Howard
    Jeff Hurt
    December 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm Permalink

    Howard:

    Thanks for the shout out!

    And yes, I totally agree with you. Don’t let any of these lists overwhelm you. Find one or two items that resonate with you and focus on implementing them. It is all about intentional implementation in stages.

    Here’s to a successful new year and not feeling overwhelmed or like an under achiever.

  2. Howard
    norman
    December 31, 2010 at 11:45 am Permalink

    really enjoyed your good advise.forget the once a year resolutions,be happy and do the right thing always.

  3. Howard
    Andrea Figman
    December 31, 2010 at 1:42 pm Permalink

    I’m with Norman (and Jeff).

  4. Howard
    Anne
    December 31, 2010 at 9:37 pm Permalink

    AMEN

    When we have unrealistic goals set for ourselves, we are bound to fall and then beat ourselves up. Small, real small and appreciate what we do have.

    Love your writing and happy new year!

  5. Howard
    Stellar Phoenix Review
    February 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm Permalink

    This content is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader interested. Between your wit and your awesome content, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost..aha) Great job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! Stellar Phoenix Review

  6. Howard
    Mady
    September 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm Permalink

    Stephanie (& Laura Kathryn), these look so beautiful! I’m glad you got to take some shots with the clissac car, even if it wasn’t of much practical need for driving around in. The fall colors were just absolutely gorgeous that day!

  7. Howard
    Lill
    September 24, 2014 at 7:43 pm Permalink

    And give the women their dowries as a gift spnouaneots. The Koran 4:412 Allah says: Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that Allah has preferred one of themover another, and for that they have expended of their property. The Koran 4:3413 Allah says: they (i.e., your wives) are a vestment for you, and you are a vestament for them. The Koran 2:187 And of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses, that you mightrepose in them, and He has set between you love and mercy. Surely in that are signs fora people who consider. The Koran 30:2118b7 Among the rights that Allah gave to the man alone is the right to separate and divorce hiswife. This was such in order to preserve the secrets of marriage, so that he is not forced toturn to injustice to the woman, degrade her, or spread her secrets.b7 Upon divorcing his wife, Allah required that a man maintain her for the waiting period(which if she is pregnant is until she gives birth; if she is menstruating for three periods; andfor all others three months). In any case, he is forever responsible for the maintenance of herchildren. If she is going to raise the children, it is [also] his responsibility to maintain her. Bythat a woman is absolved from working or seeking the necessities of life while she is a wifeor when as a mother she is raising [his] children after divorce.b7 Allah also gave women the right to leave the marriage contract. In this case, however, shemust return to him the dower he gave her, unless he drops that condition.b7 Allah made the marriage contract “a strong pledge,”14 each one of them, man and woman,must legally uphold this bond in this world and will accordingly be judged in the Hereafter.b7 Islam gave men the right to marry up to four women at one time, provided he is able tomaintain them all.15 Of course, a woman who accepts this, accepts such willingly and out ofconsent. Allah- Glorified and Exalted be He-has permitted this, so that no woman wouldremain without a husband; no man would turn to illicit sex (for lawful means have beenfacilitated for him); and so that each child would have a correct lineage to its parents. Without doubt those who desired to restrict a man to a single wife, arguing for equalityharshly reject that a man gather under his custody more than one woman; where unable toachieve that. Many men by instinct and nature cannot restrict themselves to one woman or else he willengage in illicit sexual intercourse. When the preachers of [this] “false” equality wanted tooppose the natural way, it collided with them. This resulted in men taking girlfriends andlovers. Illicit sex spread, illegitimate children multiplied, and [human] suffering becamewidespread. Among this suffering is that men have turned to raping their children. The statisticsregarding this are extremely frightful. What crime have these “preachers of equality”brought to humanity that they have turned fathers into predatory beasts raping theirdaughters, offspring, and family members.This is some understanding, did anyone know this?

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