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Resolve to change in 2014, then give up and move on

By Staff | Nov 27, 2013

Every year thousands of well-meaning Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight or reconnecting with old friends, reading a book a month or just trying to keep up with the housework, everyone intends to make themselves a better person in the coming months.

The sad truth of it is that most of these resolutions will fail. Either they’re not realistic, not practical, something happens that causes priorities to change, or maybe we just give up.

Yet every year we try again.

Why?! Why do we bother?! Are we insane?!

The answer: probably not. The clean slate of the new year has appeal for many of us. The old year is behind us – it’s over and it’s time to move on. January 1st is symbolic for opportunity, change, and, yes, forgiveness. We were wrong last year. We screwed up. But the New Year is giving us a chance to try again. It doesn’t matter if we’re setting ourselves up for failure. We’ve been given the opportunity and we’re going to take it. We’re going to try and we’re going to hope.

A somewhat less self-righteous notion of why we’re making New Year’s resolutions is tradition. People have been making resolutions on January 1st since Roman times. Then, they did it to worship Janus (for whom January is named), the two-faced god of change. It was said that one of his faces looked forward toward the new year and the other looked back over the old year. Now, we make resolutions because we were taught as children to make resolutions – our parents made resolutions, our teachers made resolutions, and they made us make resolutions too. It’s become an institution. We do this because we have always done it, successful or not.

The truth of the matter lies somewhere in between. Everyone has something about themselves they don’t like and the tradition of New Year’s resolutions give us the opportunity to change that. It also gives us the help and support of thousands of others who are trying to do just the same. If we fail-well, there are thousands who have also failed for us to commiserate with and to remind us that there’s always next year.