Just say no to New Year’s resolutions

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In today’s issue, columnist/author/consultant Lisa Earle McLeod explains why New Year’s resolutions usually fail and gives advice about how to keep them.

My advice would be to not bother to make them in the first place.

Resolutions are like diets:

Both are started with good intentions and an ultimate, usually lofty, goal.

Both are a custom Americans have repeated over and over to no avail.

Both are something we commit ourselves to when others around us proclaim a goal.

Both are often done with others around us; therefore, if they fail, we usually fail, and vice versa.

Resolutions themselves often consist of diets, so the likelihood of failure is tenfold.

Nutritionists, doctors and personal trainers have tried to hammer into Americans’ heads for a long time now that diets don’t work because they are a short-term, unrealistic solution to a long-term problem. Changes in lifestyle, like moving more and eating less, prove more successful.

However, Americans being Americans, we want things fast and easy, and if there’s a quick fix to any problem, we seek it out.

I am not against the fundamental purpose of New Year’s resolutions — obtaining a goal, improving oneself or eliminating a bad habit — it’s the way it’s done.

Say, for example, a person wants to quit smoking. He or she has been smoking for 20 years. After a successful first week, he or she caves in and sneaks a cigarette. Resolution: failed.

Example two: A person aims to lose 15 pounds by swimsuit season. The first couple weeks are great, with frequent visits to the gym and calorie intake in check. Then, he or she becomes unusually busy at work for a couple weeks, eliminating the spare time to head to the gym and make healthy meals at home. Five pounds make their way back. Resolution: failed.

We are all human. But when we fall off the New Year’s resolution wagon, we often don’t climb back on. We beat ourselves up about it and throw in the towel.

There’s an endless supply of advice columns, blogs and books about why resolutions fail and how we can make them work. And for many people, they do. Some people out there must find success with them, or the rest of the country wouldn’t continue the tradition.

Maybe a lot of it is the sense of optimism and that “new beginning” feeling that comes with a new year. But when it comes down to it, Jan. 1 is another day on the calendar just like any other. Life changes can start any day of the year, regardless of how little pomp and circumstance is involved.

Katie Rohman is the managing editor of the Niles Daily Star, Off the Water, Cassopolis Vigilant and Edwardsburg Argus. She can be reached at (269) 687-7713 or at katie.rohman@leaderpub.com.