In Defense of New Year's Resolutions

By Collin Woodard

These days, New Year’s resolutions are more of a joke than anything else. Even if you’re one of those people who adopts a new diet for January or joins a gym, you probably don’t expect it to last. And even if you do manage to turn down an invite to the all-you-can-eat night at the Macaroni and Bread Castle, you’re going to do so with a half-hearted joke about how you’re on a juice cleanse that week.

Even professionals look down on the New Year’s resolution. Doctors and therapists will tell you to make small, incremental changes instead. And I get that. I really do. Ideally, you’d work throughout the year to improve your life here and there until it looks the way you want it. But, unfortunately, real life is far from ideal. And that’s where New Year’s resolutions come in.

For a lot of people, the holiday season completely upends their schedule. Between the end of November and the beginning of the year, you’re traveling all over the place, attending a string of endless parties, spending too much time with family, and eating dishes you’d never eat any time of year. The chaos can be exciting, but it also makes it difficult to maintain a set schedule.

Even if you avoid overdoing it, you likely find yourself holding on for January. If you can just make it to January, things will finally get back to normal. Once January comes, you’ll have control over your schedule again. So while there’s nothing magical about the calendar turning from 2016 to 2017, it does mark the end of a long holiday season. If you want to make a few changes in your life, what better time is there?

There are, however, some resolutions that are better than others. A vague and probably impossible goal only sets you up for failure. You’re not going to stick perfectly to Whole30 for a year. You just aren’t. And you’re not going to go the gym before work every single day for the rest of the year. You might make it a month. Tops.

You also want to make sure you’re actually doing something effective. That means making actual changes to your diet, not hoping some nonsense cleanse can atone for 12 months of Taco Bell and Tito’s. Sorry, but if your liver can’t handle the toxins in your body, drinking nothing but juice for a few days won’t do much good, either. Go to the hospital. Now.

In the same vein, doing something healthy is only worthwhile if you stick to it. Giving up alcohol for a month only to go right back to drinking like normal only lowers your tolerance. And in 11 months, those four weeks you spent at the gym won’t be visible in the slightest.

If you can set reasonable, clear goals, however, go ahead. Make your New Year’s resolutions. The new year is the perfect time to make a few changes.

And if not now, when? When are you finally going to change what needs to be changed? It would be great if problems would problems would solve themselves, but they don’t. I’m never going to wake up with Ryan Reynolds’ body, and neither are you. Unless you already are Ryan Reynolds. That’s something you and I have (and even he has) to work for.

Don’t let the fact that you missed January 1st stop you, either. You can start anytime. Pick a goal, make a plan, choose a start date, and do it. It’s that simple. Sure, people may poke fun at your New Year’s resolution, but so what? If it’s the first step towards achieving goals that are important to you, their lame jokes are irrelevant.

Unless you join a multi-level marketing scheme. All gloves are off if you sign up for one of those.