A silly tradition

By Mike Baker

When you really think about it, New Year’s resolutions are a bit silly.

It’s a tradition that dates back some 4,000 years, to the time of the ancient Babylonians. There’s evidence that the Greeks, the Romans and early Christians all subscribed to the idea in one form or another. Yes, I know it’s a cliché, but some traditions are meant to be broken, and I wouldn’t be at all sorry to see the New Year’s resolution fall by the wayside.

Bear with me for a minute. According to recent research, the top 10 most common commitments individuals tend to make when ushering in the new year all have to do with personal improvement. I see it all the time on my social media feeds.

“New year, new me! This is when I finally follow through and…”

The lists go on and on. Exercising more, losing weight and quitting smoking are the big three, as I call them, while other frequent pop-ups include becoming more organized, saving more money, or learning a new skill or hobby.

These are all great goals, and I’m not trying to put down any of you who may have made a New Year’s resolution with the intention of following through. But the stats don’t lie. While doing some online reading over the weekend, I stumbled across an interesting column on the History Channel website. It referenced a report published by the Statistic Brain Research Institute that said as many as 45 per cent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, but only eight per cent of those are successful in achieving their goals.

I tried my best to find a Canadian comparative, but all I found was a 1,000-person poll completed in 2016 asking what new flavour of Timbit Canucks would like to see introduced. Terry’s Chocolate Orange was among the options. I couldn’t make this up even if I tried.

Anyway, my point is that while many, many people will make a promise to change something about themselves this year, very few will actually follow through. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past. You get caught up in the moment, see your friends and family making grandiose commitments and don’t want to be left behind, so you jump in without really thinking it through.

The first few days, things go great. It was real easy giving up that beer and bag of chips. Running a mile on the treadmill wasn’t so hard, maybe you’ll push it up to two miles next week. Only next week doesn’t happen. You’ve already stopped going to the gym. Why? Because you don’t really want to change. If you did, you’d have done it already.

There’s nothing at all magical about Jan. 1. There’s a reason that, statistically, so few people succeed with their New Year’s resolution – their motivations are all wrong. Pushing things off and waiting for one day to come around every year to try and make real changes to your life is a recipe for failure.

If you want to make a change, then by all means go ahead and make a change. But don’t do it simply to conform to some weird idea that it’s the right thing to do, or more aptly, the right time to do it.

Oh, and please, for the love of my uncle Pete, don’t post about it on your Facebook account. Trust me, I’m saving you from some awkward encounters a few weeks from now when distant relatives or acquaintances ask you how your long forgotten about resolution is going.