Why we don’t keep resolutions and how to change that

Growing up, one thing we heard a lot from my dad was, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I like to give this caveat every time I set about trying to give life advice, because while I have a lot of faith in my ideas, my execution is not something anyone should try to imitate.

I had one such idea last year. Instead of writing New Year’s resolutions, I was going to write New Year’s Radical Acceptances. The Acceptance should be an honest observation about a particular trait, habit or tendency of yours. Through this keen and thorough observation of your current state, you could figure out what exact steps you needed to take in order to move forward.

Often, people’s resolutions are broad, blanket statements that are easy to evade. Things like “Get healthy,” “Lose weight,” “Drink less,” “Read more,” “Write more,” and “Be a better friend.” Just like you (probably) wouldn’t buy a car before you’d figured out the unique needs of your family, you shouldn’t make resolutions without really thinking about who are you at the current moment.

Instead of aspirations, I thought you should write down truths like “I’m addicted to ice cream, my happiest moments are spent drinking, I don’t know how to find books I like, I hate sitting down to write, I’m not good at making plans and I give harsh advice.” Then, you can start to think about how to solve for the actual problem instead of plowing towards some vague but magical future.

For example, two years ago, running a second half-marathon was one of my resolutions. But last year, as I thought about fitness goals and the idea of New Year’s Acceptances, I wrote down, “hip and knee totally fucked.” I knew that until I dealt with my injuries, anything I managed to achieve would only be putting my body in debt. I wanted to accept my setbacks, deal with them, and then evaluate if something like a marathon was appropriate. (Instead, I didn’t deal with my issues or exercise. But I did get kind of addicted to ice cream. See above, re: Do I say, not as I do.)

This year, I’m accepting that I am not as great at executing as I’d like to be. It will either lead me on a path to greater productivity, or be the most recursive resolution fail of all time.

What are you resolving/accepting in 2016?

 

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