New Year’s Resolutions are Poor Mental Hygiene

As CBC Vancouver’s December 31 6 PM news was going to commercials they were showing people’s New Year’s resolutions.

As part of good mental hygiene I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago.

Not solely, or even primarily, because making resolutions you will not keep is pointlessness behaviour.

Although….. If a resolution is defined as determining upon an course of action with a firmness of purpose and a mental state of being resolute [set in purpose; characterized by determination]. Then actions whose accomplishment you are not determined and resolute about are not resolutions they are a wish list. I wish I’d lose weight, I wish I’d exercise more, I wish I made better use of my time…..

My primary reason for not making resolutions that I will not keep? Execute? Accomplish? is that it teaches bad habits, sets you up to fail and causes negative self talk.

Change is difficult, even a small change. Instilling a new behaviour, a new habit, takes planning followed by months of focus and effort to successfully accomplish. Depending on the change and course of action you have determined upon it could take years to accomplish the desired change.

You make a list of New Year’s resolutions – plural – of changes in behaviour and/or actions you want to make without either plans or resolve to accomplish those – multiple – changes. A snowball has a better chance in hell.

Should you somehow manage to avoid the topic of your New Year’s resolutions during the year,  the arrival of the new New Year will highlight your failure. Years upon years upon years of failure.

Failure is a part of life, learning and growing. If you are not failing, you are not testing yourself or pushing yourself to improve or pursuing excellence. But the lessons and consequences of setting yourself up for chronic, repeated failure diminish you.

Chronic, repeated failure fosters a culture of failure where failure is simply business as usual and not accomplishing something is no big deal because – at least we tried.

Chronic, repeated failure can also foster an avoidance of failure. You don’t do something because you will fail at it* or you could fail at it; you don’t examine the outcomes of your actions to determine their effectiveness or failure, simply keep doing the same thing over and over; you avoid challenges, play it safe and avoid reality  

*Sometimes you have to try even if you are going to fail because the costs and consequences of not trying are to high. Sometimes doing the best you can even if that is judged toi be a failure is the only ethical thing to do. Sometimes you have to try and fail to obtain the information you need to try and succeed.

Resolved in our course of action, resolute in our purpose and determined to do what is needed to obtain our goal.

In theory, not in practice; a practice that that years of new year’s resolutions have fostered and trained into our behaviour

Excellence is a habit and so are non-excellence and failure. The habits of failure and non-excellence ensure not simply that we  don’t achieve excellence, but that we do not pursue excellence as a goal.

It would be nice to reduce drug overdose deaths but until we are determined to significantly reduce or eliminate overdose deaths – whatever it takes – we are merely wishing overdose deaths would go down.

We don’t like our government, but not to the point we are resolved to the do work or make the effort and changes necessary to change our behaviour and thereby change the government and politics. And why should we? Just because we elect the government does not mean either we are responsible for the government or are getting the government we deserve.

Debt, health care, policy changes to adapt to the fundamental economic changes of the digital economy, education……..

The future quality of our lives depends on whether we do or don’t deal with a number of issues. Dealing with those issues is not going to be comfortable, but not dealing with it will have, is having and will increasingly have, negative costs and consequences.

Will we be resolute in dealing with the issues, make the tough choices and decisions and deal with the discomfort?

Or will we simply pass on the planning, effort and costs of dealing with these issues as we pass on the planning, effort and cost to accomplish any New Year’s resolutions?

Then whine, complain and point fingers as the consequences of our failure to be resolute become ever more costly and negative.    


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