New Year’s Resolutions: Are They Worth Anything At All?

The Christmas tree is still up for a few days more and there’s candy lingering in bowls on practically every surface around the house. But other than that, the festivities have wound down. Adults are thinking about going back to work. Children are getting ready to go back to school. The old year has ended. The new one has begun. And here in the U.S. we have this tradition of making resolutions.

Who Makes Resolutions?

I’ve been reading online that in some families, kids make resolutions, too. Some resolve to get better at things – like sports or the violin or math. Others resolve to be a better person –like not fighting with siblings or being more helpful around the house. One girl has resolved to try new foods. First on her list—alligator!

My kids didn’t make resolutions. But I have to admit, I made some for them. Thoughtful, meaningful, handwritten cards for birthdays and mothers day and the like. That was a big one for me. My daughters tried pretty hard to convince me that no one writes cards like that anymore (a stone ages thing, they said) and no one expects cards like that and no one appreciates cards like that. Ah – but I do. Having grown up in the Wilma Flintstone era, as I did. And you know what? My kids did write them. And they still do. And now one of them has a boyfriend who loves this kind of card as much as I do. ☺

Still, I hear that this little story is the exception, not the norm. A Forbes Magazine article a few years ago reported that only 12% of people making resolutions actually keep them.

So Is There a Point to Making Resolutions at All?

I think so. And here’s why:

  • Structure. Our lives are full of actions, big and small. It’s kinda like the Internet. If we start surfing without knowing (at least generally) what we’re looking for, we can spend hours drowning in all the info that’s out there –I call it getting Internet drunk – and we don’t remember a thing we’ve read when we finally shut down. Resolutions remind us what we’re looking for.
  • Hope. Springs eternal. And a new year gives us a do-over, a chance to get it right. Never mind that we’ve been trying for the last ten years to lose those extra ten pounds. This will be the year! So we say January 1. And just to think it feels good, is inspiring. We may not lose those pounds. But we might. And without hope, we don’t even try.
  • Accomplishment…or at least Progress. Maybe by December 31, those ten pounds will be history. Or maybe the scale needle will stop on a number two pounds lighter than where it was on January 1. (As an aside, my scale reminds me of The Wheel of Fortune. I watch the needle bounce around as I bounce around on the scale, adjusting my posture, of course, and I wait in focused expectation to see just where it will stop. But I digress.) The point is two pounds lighter is better than nothing and a lot better than two pounds heavier. To get there takes self-discipline. But when you do get there, it is an accomplishment. Which might get lost in the shuffle without an intentional resolution to begin with.

Resolutions Are Good for Everyone – The Tall and the Small.

Kids, too. In retrospect, I wish I had included resolutions as part of my children’s New Year ritual. It’s a chance to dream. A chance to organize and prioritize. A chance to practice resolve. And, thereby, a chance to succeed.

Share your favorite New Year’s resolutions!

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