New Year’s resolutions fall flat come spring

By Stephanie Franklin

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It’s that time of year again. Homework is actually finished. Houses look cleaner. Self-help books disappear from bookstore shelves. And just like every other January and February, gym membership spikes as lazy Americans crawl out of their dimly lit TV rooms to prove that they will, (really this time,) be healthier people this year.

But for those of you worried that your gym is about to become unbearably crowded, have no fear: they’ll all vanish by springtime.

This cycle of unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions is as inevitable as Taylor Swift writing a song about her next breakup. Every year we make resolutions, and every year we break them. You’d think we’d learn our lesson.

Ever notice how nearly every commercial on TV this time of year seems to advertise either Weight Watchers or some sort of Nicotine patch? Businesses are well aware and ready to take advantage of our repetitive habits.

But luckily, there are some common warning signs that your resolution is simply not going to happen. First, there’s the paradoxical habit of rewarding yourself for cutting down on unhealthy food… by pigging out on the cheesecake in the back of the fridge. Next, your goals become lower and lower, and what was once a mandatory 10:30 bedtime has now somehow crept up to 11, or midnight “at the very latest.” And when you hear yourself making excuses like “Aw man, I wish I could go for a run today, but I really have to organize my sock drawer,” it’s already too late.

And, come on people: if your resolution is the exact same one you made last year, well, you might as well give up. If you were actually capable of keeping it, it wouldn’t need to be your resolution again this year.

Truth be told, New Year’s resolutions are just weak attempts to raise our self-esteem. Claiming you’ll do something fantastic is an easy conscience-booster that involves zero effort, follow-through not included. But just as claiming that you’re going to finish your homework two hours ago won’t actually make it happen, making a resolution you’re not going to keep doesn’t actually make you a better person.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with improving ourselves, but the fact that it’s 2011 now isn’t much motivation. Leaving ourselves open to inspiration for self-improvement during any regular month is a far more effective and enjoyable solution—at least if we made April resolutions we’d all reach our fitness peak right around bathing suit season.

So come on, let’s cool it with the unrealistic declarations of misguided ambition. If the average American’s attention span probably isn’t even long enough to finish reading this article, how do you expect to pay attention to your resolution for a whole year?

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