In an internet riddled with lists of “How To Be A Better Person In 2014” and “Ways To Lose Weight For The New Year,” there exists a general apathy that mainly contributes to the failure to deliver the constructiveness that said articles are written for. They cater to an audience hungering for an improvement to its situations, without helping it to understand the problem. This time of year is perhaps the most poisonous for humanity in terms of progress. Everyone wants to better themselves, and so they put their goals to paper and set out to make a change at the start of the next year. This is a terrible idea, and has been for a long time, for a couple reasons.
Many of the people who scheme to lose the weight or get that six pack at the start of the new year are consciously procrastinating before they even start. This is outrageous. If you can identify a problem, why wait to fix it? If your toilet is overflowing, the natural reaction is not “I need to get the plunger. 3 o’clock is a nice time, let’s begin then.” You knock down your neighbors’ doors until you locate a plunger. You fix the problem. You start right then and there.
The concept for a New Year’s Resolution itself is simple to understand: set a concrete date and steadily go about your business—a pretty reasonable way to achieve a goal. But this isn’t how we’re hardwired to work, no matter how logical it may seem.
The types of dreams people typically have in starting the new year are ones that require patience and steady, though sometimes dogging work that shows no visible progress for a long time. And many people are discouraged when unable to see noticeable progress. So they do the easy thing. They give up. They lose the desire to stay the course for whatever they’ve set out to do. You might call it the downfall of a society centered about instant gratification, but you would be wrong. Failures like these are not due to a lack of motivation, but a misunderstanding of the concept.
On a recent installment of his weekly radio show, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers discussed motivation and reflected on a speech given to the team by Jason Simmons, the team’s coaching administrator, in which he argued that “you can’t motivate a guy, you can only inspire him.” In essence, true motivation can only come from within, so those that are highly self-driven will prosper most from their ambition. Other people can help spark this desire, but the rest needs to be taken care of by the individual. You can’t rely on the changing of a calendar to give you a boost. You need to find it somewhere in yourself.
I don’t believe it can be put in simpler terms. When you want something done, it is usually nobody’s problem but your own. For more intricate problems, or for those that require a lengthier timetable, it’s on you to keep yourself focused. Understanding this in conjunction with the necessity of more immediate action and patience for results is how the big things get done.
I’m tired of hearing family members, friends, or acquaintances complaining about things that they want changed, only to do nothing about it or to wait for some divine date to begin their work. Your problems are yours and yours alone. Don’t wait to act on them, attack now and be steps ahead of the myriad of people lethargically following an ideal only to stop when they’re tired or something gets too hard.
Without any real data to back this up, I’ll assume that the vast majority of your New Year’s resolutions haven’t ever really come to fruition. Unless your goal is simply and literally to add to that mythical statistic, this is not a time to follow a crowd. Cut out the junk food now. Be nice to a stranger the next time you see one. Wake up early and jog a mile tomorrow. Just do something, but do it now. The idea is not to condemn the idea of New Year’s Day, of next Monday, of next week or next month or next year, but to avoid using them as a method of putting something off that you know you can do in the present tense.
Instead of saying that you’re going to work on evolving into the person you want to be in the new year, why not actually put all your energy into something and continuously do it for the rest of your existence? Segmenting your life into time periods allows you to examine it in intervals, and it’s a natural way for your mind to make sense of a life that is, in its rawest form, a giant conglomeration of events. And while those segments make longer journeys seem more manageable, saying that you’re only going to go to the gym in 2014 means you’ll be more likely to drop off of the bandwagon the closer we get to 2015. Don’t compartmentalize this new year, or any other years for that matter. A new year provides new opportunities, sure, but so does a new day. Start today. Start now.