From Relevant Magazine
Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Won’t Work
On fresh starts, false promises and a better way.
It occurred to me recently that when people share their New Year’s resolutions, they tend to talk about things that point indirectly to their character: “I want to eat healthier … I want to pay off my debt … I want to read through the entire Bible … ” Our resolutions reflect our hopes of becoming a better “me.” Though they may seem to be mere matters of behavioral modification, the fact that we always fail to keep them seems to point to a deeper problem.
If you think about it, an admission of a character flaw is almost always built into a New Year’s resolution, then quickly explained away—”I know I should do this, but I have failed to do it this year. I want to set a new goal, try harder next year and succeed.”
Alas, there’s the elephant in the room. Didn’t you say the same thing last year, and the year before? Perhaps this is a good indicator that we have a bigger problem on our hands than just not keeping our vows. The bigger problem is that we’re not very good at doing what we know is for our own good. This should reveal that, lurking subtly behind bad eating habits, persistent debt and slacking spirituality, are character flaws that are not essentially behavioral but existential. Our failures have less to do with what we do and more with who we are.
Who would consider it a “meaningful” endeavor to succeed in eating healthy for one year, only to ruin their health in subsequent years? Who would consider it “responsible” to pay off a large amount of debt in a year, only to accrue more debt in the years to follow? These changes we like to see in our lives and vow to make are changes we want to see for the rest of our lives, not just for a year.