To begin with, the very notion of self-improvement is, at its core, a flawed one. It implies that we are not already good enough as we are, that we must constantly strive to be better. This mindset can lead to a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction and inadequacy, as we are always falling short of some imaginary ideal.Jan 01, 2023, 13 48 | Updated: Jan 02, 2023, 13 05
It's that time of year again—time to reflect on all the ways we screwed up in the past 365 days. And how do we address this? By inventing a bunch of unrealistic promises to ourselves that we have absolutely no intention of keeping.
Yay to self-improvement.
Get real: New Year's resolutions are just a load of nonsense. They're like the dietary equivalent of "I'll start my diet on Monday." We all know how well that goes.
How many times have you made the classic resolution of "lose weight" or "exercise more" only to have it fall by the wayside by January 15th? And don't even get me started on the whole "save money" resolution.
I mean, come on. Who needs to save money all year round? Clearly it's only important to do so for the first couple of weeks of the new year. And then again, you cannot make resolutions to save money when you don’t have any money.
It’s not only the fact that these resolutions are often broken that makes them ridiculous.
It's the fact that you feel the need to make them in the first place.
But I have a way to make resolutions in January and yet not feel like a complete doofus by February.
Like this—make up a list of resolutions that you have every intention of keeping.
This is a good time to take a side road in this narrative and tell you about my friend. The relevance of this amusing aside will become clear in due course.
This friend was trying hard to train his irreverent mutt. An ungrateful mutt, considering that he one day rescued him from the freedom of the open streets and imprisoned him in his house. And then—to add to the insult—leashed the furry bugger and kept him from bowel-movement—except under supervision.
And then didn’t he half wonder why the dog wouldn’t listen to his nonsense?
“Sit,” he orders the dog.
“I don’t want to sit. YOU sit,” the mutt replies.
So, my pal decides that the only way to win this and redeem himself in the public eye—and have people tell him what a well trained and obedient dog he has, was to astutely give the mutt orders based on what the mutt wanted to do anyway.
“Eat your food,” he tells his hungry mongrel.
“Bloody idiot,” the mutt thinks to himself.
Back to resolutions, who are we kidding when we vow to exercise every day, learn a new language, and meditate for an hour each morning? Do we really think we can magically transform ourselves into superhuman beings overnight?
According to a survey by the University of Scranton in the US, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's goals. The rest of us have the pleasure of something to feel guilty about for the next 364 days, right?
Perhaps it is time for us to take a contrarian view of New Year's resolutions.
To begin with, the very notion of self-improvement is, at its core, a flawed one. It implies that we are not already good enough as we are, that we must constantly strive to be better. This mindset can lead to a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction and inadequacy, as we are always falling short of some imaginary ideal.
With a hangover.
Enough said. How do you win this?
The method is simple. Like my friend and his mutt, make a list of things you want to do anyway and then do them.
In the spirit of contrarianism, I present to you a list of New Year's resolutions that you can actually stick to:
Stop making resolutions. Let's be honest, you're not going to keep them anyway.
Embrace your inner sloth. Instead of vowing to hit the gym every day, why not just accept that you're not a fitness enthusiast and be done with it?
Ditch the "no carbs" rule. Carbs are delicious and denying yourself of them just leads to hangry misery.
Don't even try to learn a new language. It's too much work and you'll probably just end up confusing "hello" with "goodbye" anyways.
Procrastination isn't just a habit, it's a way of life. Embrace it and stop pretending you're going to magically become a productivity ninja.
Don't even bother trying to be a morning person. The snooze button was invented for a reason.
And there are these burning existential questions.
“Why do I need a specific date to decide that I want to make a change in my life?”
“Why can't I just wake up one day and say, "You know what, I'm going to start eating healthier today"?
Or say, "I'm going to start saving money right now."?
Or, “Why do I feel like I have to have some grand plan for self-improvement and why can’t I just coast through the year without some sort of goal in mind”?
Now, reviewing the list of resolutions I suggested earlier was not enough.
Here’s another list. A tad more aggressive.
The new contrarian list of New Year resolutions that you can actually follow:
I resolve to procrastinate even more this year. After all, what's the rush?
I resolve to make a commitment to never actually follow through on any of my resolutions.
I resolve to spend even more money on unnecessary things, because who doesn't love being in debt?
I resolve—nay, vow—to be even more indecisive and unable to make decisions. Such fun.
I resolve to never clean my house again. It's not like it's important to have a clean living space.
I resolve to continue being late to everything. Time is just a social construct, right?
I resolve to make a commitment to never learn anything new. Why bother expanding my knowledge and skills when I can just stick with what I know?
I resolve to never apologise or take responsibility for my actions. So much easier to just blame others.
I resolve to sit back and let life happen to me. And never put in any effort towards achieving my goals.
And finally, I resolve to continue being a negative, pessimistic person.
It's just so much more fun than being happy and hopeful.