New Year's Resolutions

I hate to be pessimistic (especially as this is my first post of the new year) but call me a pragmatist. Who, if anyone has ever successfully stuck to their new year's resolutions (NYR's) or has not given up on them? Let me paint a real picture; it's January the 1st and everyone starts the year positive, hoping the year will be better than the last. A clean slate, a fresh start, but what's actually changed except the date? Clean slate? Fresh start, eh? It's your life! It's continual, it's linear, you're not a blackboard, your previous experiences are not chalk and your hopeful reformations do not represent a board-wiper. You can't wipe out your past, rectify the present and manipulate the future, so why do people (myself included) insist on attempting huge changes to their lifestyle or relationships due to the importance of a certain date? Why wait until the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve to reform your old bad habits?

Let's take quitting smoking for example. Surely if you wanted to quit that desperately you'd wake up on any given day and slap your nicotine patch on; there's no time like the present, no delay. Does the date (1st January) offer us the psychological security that we will succeed? Who says an individual only has the willpower to quit on a particular day?

Over the years my NYR's have become less fanciful and more realistic. If you'd of asked me what my resolutions were 3-5 years ago I would've relayed a long list of multiple improvements; quit smoking, stop drinking, get along with my mother (like that will ever happen). Now, a little older, a little wiser and a tad more stoic, I've downsized the mammoth, near-impossible tasks of the past and have resigned myself  to rectifying minor changes in my lifestyle and personality. My 2012 NYR's: 1. Go out clubbing more. 2. Be more patient and accommodating. To learn patience is a tough enough challenge for me to propitiously master without bearing the burden of another task. I really don't need to dwell on my ever-expanding 'to-do' list of personal adjustments and get myself into a mental fracas over everything negative in my life; one step at a time.

But some people don't like  'one step at a time'. Some people believe multi-tasking is the way forward and what better way to do that then through their NYR's. Earlier this week after arriving at the gym for my usual frantic, post-Christmas workout I was astounded to find just how packed it was; full of over-weight, slovenly hopefuls with good intentions to lose weight. It always interests me to see people's dedication and persistence in dropping pounds...or to see how fast they quit. Ah- my extraneous views! Anyway, at the gym I came across one man in particular whose NYR's were astronomically diverse, evidently suffering from the classic case of wanting to do everything at once. Engaging in a brief conversation he proudly told me (half way through his 5kg set of reps) that his NYR's were to lose 21 pounds, stop smoking, cut down on drinking and become a chef. A chef. That's after he told me he'd previously gone from being a general practician to a policeman. Talk about taking on the world; obviously this man doesn't believe in baby steps. Although I remained perplexed, all sincere credit to him for trying because I would never now entertain the thought of making such instantly drastic changes.

And to a lesser degree, the mentality behind this man's desire to change immediately is an example of the reasoning behind a typically impatient person; to prove that you can succeed in whatever you do against all odds. Upon asking one of my male friends what his NYR was earlier this week, he flagrantly replied "to keep my todger in my pants". I could only muster a disbelieving laugh because sadly (and correctly) I had little faith in his proposal. My accuracy was brought to light on the 5th of January when he messaged to tell me "Oops..looks like I just broke my NYR already." Sad to say I told you so. He'd set himself  a task too prodigious for his character and had no real regret about his lack of effort.

And this is precisely my issue: if people are able to break their NYR's so easily because  they don't take them seriously, then why place such a high emphasis on creating them year in year out? Surely if  you intrinsically believe you do not have the willpower to succeed in making changes then why bother? I'm not saying that people shouldn't look for self-improvement but perhaps make one or two small changes, keep at them and take them seriously instead of concocting ludicrously major alterations which they don't really care to stick to. It defeats the point of a NYR.