«Human beings are the only ones who try to make themselves better.» This aphorism was enunciated by the 18th century Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his work “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality in Men”. The author wanted to show that, compared to other animals that instinctively seek to improve only their environmental conditions, we people are capable of empowering ourselves personally, that is, propose to develop new skills or attitudes that bring added value to our existence.
The change of year is the moment most people choose to set that transformation in motion. It is not by chance that it happens now: the change of digit, and now of decade, in the calendar is seen as an end of cycle and leads, naturally, to reflect if the life we have is the best of all possible.
Setting a goal is like starting a long journey: you have to know where you are starting from and where you want to go, but you also need to know the route.
Setting a date for an improvement plan, such as January 1st, is essential to carry it out, but it is insufficient if we follow the University of Scranton study that found that only 8% of the year-end resolutions are satisfactorily concluded.
Setting a goal is like starting a long journey: you have to know where you are starting from and where you want to go, but you also need to know the route to take and the resources available. An incomplete planning of the trip or an overly ambitious goal will inevitably lead us to failure.
According to Statista, the five most common New Year’s resolutions are, in this order: save money, lose weight, have more sex, travel and read more books.
Saying to yourself at the beginning of the year something like «I’m going to spend less» is nothing if it is not accompanied by a detailed and realistic plan: How much do I want to save? What am I going to give up? How much should I accumulate each month? How will I know that I have reached my goal?
The lack of concreteness is the main partner of failure. If we do not know how close or far we are from our goal, we will end up throwing in the towel.
The simple fact of creating a goal for the year ahead has positive consequences.
Failure should not discourage you from making New Year’s resolutions. It is good that year after year we tries to improve. Any resolution always has that purpose, to change for the better. Life itself is already a collection of projects: wanting to be, wanting to have, wanting to reach, wanting to share, etc. The simple fact of creating a goal for the year ahead has positive consequences like these:
- Offer a course. A football player without an objective would be wandering up and down the field without being clear about what to do. Knowing the aim allows him to put all his resources into achieving it.
- It makes us reflect on the aspects of our life that we like the least.
- It brings happiness. The simple fact of starting up, from a neurochemical point of view, generates illusion, regardless of the result. Starting a project makes us secrete dopamine, a substance intimately linked to well-being and pleasure.
- Working for a reward that is not immediate strengthens our resources for self-control, which will also be useful in other tasks.
- It gives meaning to our life. Austrian author Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, wrote in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” that making plans for himself when he left Auschwitz saved his life.
New Year’s resolutions are therefore more than just the sweetened side of Christmas. They are not those wishes for peace and happiness that we spread indiscriminately in December. On the other hand, they are a real way to progress, to grow, to improve. It is one more opportunity that nature offers us, exclusively, to evolve.
Source upper image: https://irishtatler.com/