New Year’s Resolutions

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Well, it’s a new year. Post-Christmas Depression has taken its toll, we’ve looked back fondly on the last year, and the snow is starting to lose its annual novelty. With all this in mind, I have a question or two to ask about that special time of year called New Year’s Eve/Day.

Seriously, what is it with the face of the planet and New Year’s Resolutions?

Every year, people promise to do something different. And every year, it only takes a few days—a week, at most, for some—to break those promises and immediately go back to their old ways. Last year I promised to put the finishing touches on my book and get it ready for publishing, and I didn’t keep that promise for reasons that make me cringe just thinking about them.

Bottom line: it’s impossible to keep a New Year’s resolution. So why make them at all?

My first thought was that, maybe, it’s an excuse to improve a lifestyle, or even the self. It’d be a fair answer, as some people promise to try new things and others promise to be more optimistic or encouraging. But I have two problems with this hypothesis. One, you can’t keep a resolution. No matter how hard we try, we all know that New Years’ Resolutions cannot be met. And if there’s any evidence proving otherwise, it’s mostly likely unheard of, nonexistent, or just plain cheesy. Second, at least ninety percent of these resolutions revolve around living healthier lifestyles, such as working out more or going on a diet for a month. (Follow-up question: why is that a popular New Years’ Resolution? Wouldn’t it be just as beneficial to make a promise that you’ll, say, read a book every week? Or think of five things that make you happy every morning before breakfast? Oh well, that’s not what I’m here to talk about, so let’s move on).

Then I figured that the New Year is a lot like starting over, so it gives us a time to turn over a new leaf. But again, we can’t keep a New Year’s Resolution, so why try at all?

After a while, I thought back on my last New Year’s Resolution, which made me think about the books I wanted to write, which in turn made me reflect on my dream career and how I might achieve it. I thought about how I wanted to work harder on my book, and had gone as far as to buy myself a planner to keep me accountable and stay on task. And all of that gave me another possible reason for New Year’s Resolutions: goals.

Goals keep us moving forward. Being passionate about something—anything at all—lights a fire in our lives that only we could put out. Dreams, whether selfish or selfless, give us something to look forward to, something to work towards. Making a New Year’s Resolution is an excuse to do just that.

But again, we don’t usually meet those goals, especially when it comes to New Year’s. We fail because the excitement starts to wear off, and what we want to do becomes another chore of the daily life. It gets too hard to keep doing, so more often than not we choose to give up before we make any progress. And even if that weren’t the case, when we accomplish what we want to do, what usually happens next? We chase a new dream, a new goal. Very few of us are happy with where we’re currently at in life, and it’s part of human nature to want something more than what we’ve got.

So maybe what causes us to make New Year’s Resolutions over and over again, perhaps, is a foolish hope. Hope that things will be different this time. Hope that our lives will change for the better, if we do this or that. Whatever the case, it’s weird and I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand it. But if there’s something that you really have your heart set on, if there are changes you know you need to make and will do whatever you can to make them happen, then who am I to stand in your way?

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Here’s to 2015!”

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