A new perspective on New Year’s resolutions

Emily Doran

With the commencement of 2015, students are no doubt making (and perhaps already breaking) a fresh set of New Year’s resolutions. While I certainly believe that January is the perfect time to implement positive changes, I can’t help but feel discouraged that so many people (including myself) almost inevitably end up breaking their resolutions within a few months.

There seems to be plenty of reasons why this happens: sometimes the goals chosen are simply too big and too difficult to achieve. Other times, they are not specific enough, and it can be difficult to determine where and how to begin the process of fulfilling them.

One idea, which doesn’t seem to be discussed very often, is the fact that people frequently choose goals that they won’t enjoy fulfilling. While this makes sense (after all, if you resolve to lose five pounds, the chances that you’ll be jumping for joy while cutting your calorie intake are probably slim), it still acts as a legitimate explanation for why some people, if not most, find it difficult to maintain their New Year’s resolutions.

Last year, I decided to try to break this cycle of picking and inevitably breaking unenjoyable resolutions. In searching for what goal I would focus on for the next year, I instead thought about something I would really like to learn. In the end, I decided that I would learn how to swing dance. I had tried it briefly a few years earlier and had enjoyed it, and I figured that if I chose a fun resolution that I had been wanting to work on anyway, I would have a better chance of fulfilling it.

So I started attending a local swing dancing club and picked up as many tips and tricks as I could. I went pretty consistently throughout the year and eventually became reasonably competent and learned several different types of swing dancing. There were certainly difficulties and discouragements along the way, but in the end, I enjoyed what I was doing and consequently stuck with it.

This year, I’m adopting a similar attitude and picking a goal that I’ve been wanting to fulfill for some time now. In 2015, I plan to run a race. While I know that training may be difficult at times, I also know that I enjoy working out and that this will ultimately be a very rewarding experience.

My mom always says that anything worth having in life requires hard work. I certainly agree with that statement, but I think that most people make the unconscious determination that hard work is inherently unenjoyable. This is certainly not the case. On the contrary, it’s perfectly fine, even beneficial, to pick a difficult New Year’s resolution, but you will likely have a much more positive experience, and increase your likelihood of success, if it’s also one that you will find fun.

With that in mind, consider looking at your New Year’s resolution differently this year. Pick up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try or cross an item off your bucket list. In the end, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience.