I've always liked the concept of a New Year's Resolution. It is an acknowledgment that you want to change something in your life for the better and that you're dedicated to do that over the course of the year. It's inspiring stuff, no doubt.
But it's also a road to disappointment. The University of Scranton just released a study saying that only 8% of people that make a resolution actually succeed at what they resolved. In other words, 92% of people that make a resolution fail. In other other words, I look at everyone that makes a New Year's Resolution as a whimsical optimist that is setting herself up for failure. A resolution is a beautiful concept, but it is executed horribly in virtually every instance.
So how do we fix this? How do we make resolutions that mean something? There is no point in making a promise to yourself if it's impossible to actually keep, but there's no point in saying that it's impossible to change. Your friendly, neighborhood Mystery Man has done some thinking on this, and I've come up with a plan.
Whatever resolution you make, start it right now. Don't wait until January 1st. Start it right this second. If you can't, it means that the resolution is going to be very hard, very cumbersome, or take so long that it should be called a "Profound Life Change" instead of a "New Year's Resolution."
What does that mean, precisely? It means that "finally get in shape" isn't a good New Year's Resolution. But "go to the gym today, and then at least twice a week afterwards" is a good New Year's Resolution. "Travel more" isn't good, but "go on a roadtrip in April, and start booking it now" is definitely good. "Find true love" is horrendous, but "make an OKCupid profile today and start looking at guys next week" is delightful.
Do you see the pattern? Specificity and immediacy. Waiting to start something kills momentum, and a lack of tangible and measurable goals makes it impossible to track. That 92% failure rate seems pretty realistic considering that these are the types of resolutions people proudly post to Facebook.
So make your resolutions, but make them clear and start them now. If you do that, you're going to be in the 8%.
Best of luck, everyone. Onward to 2013!