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A paper and pen lay on a desk for New Year Resolutions. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

OPINION: What’s a New Year’s resolution without resolve?

 For most people, the new year brings a fresh chance to start over with a clean slate and implement changes into one’s life. However, each year, New Year’s resolutions create the opposite of resolve. Instead, they serve only as another thing to do in a world full of short-lived trends.

I don’t have a problem with the idea behind resolutions. In fact, I like the idea of having a long-term goal for the year — it seems to me as if they can only provide benefits. However, as we often see, that’s not quite the case.

Resolutions are usually based on social ideals and not truely achievable lifestyle changes. These ideals usually follow cultural trends that may be harmful. For example, one of the most common resolutions involves losing weight. Dieting can actually increase the likelihood of weight gain in the future, according to a study found in the National Library of Medicine.

Not only does fluctuating weight at an extreme cause physical health hazards, but bad self-esteem as well. This is in part due to the diet being a short-term commitment and not a long-term habit. This trend seems to apply to most resolutions.

My other problem is the guilt associated with not following through. Guilt shouldn’t have a place in resolutions. If someone makes a resolution to benefit themselves, as is custom, then why should they feel guilty about it if they can’t succeed? A year can be unpredictable, and wants and needs change. It's not fair to hold yourself to the same path if you don’t want that anymore, and it’s not failure to change your goals.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a resolution as “the firm decision to do or not do.” That sentiment sounds like Yoda to me. As much as I love Yoda, I have to disagree with him here. Trying is integral to resolve, because like Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Resolutions have existed in popular culture for a long period of time, at least 200 years according to Merriam-Webster. Almost as long as the concept has been around, it’s been satirized.

Cultural standards seem to be that if something isn’t done perfectly, it shouldn’t be done at all. Do or do not. Instead, I propose that if one makes a resolution, they also resolve to give themselves a bit of grace.

My last issue comes from my observations that goals with a start date feel like permission to do whatever the person wants before that start. Then, when it comes time to start, alongside starting, they’ve got to break the habits they’ve built in preparation. If you’re resolving to do something this year, starting the day of the resolution may be the way to go, rather than waiting until a flashy date to start and continuing your habits in the meantime. It’s better to get up and go and not wait until some arbitrary date to start doing what you want to do.

Resolutions can be fun if done with the right frame of mind and not taken too seriously. 

Not everything has to serve you or the people around you in some great and meaningful way. It’s okay if you do something just because it makes you happy — that’s the best resolution of all.

Marcela Johnson is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo 

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