The Illusion of New Year Resolutions

I used to enjoy the idea of New Year Resolutions and for many years, like most people, I would set new year resolutions every 1st of January. I was seduced by this illusion, created by our calendar, that we can have a fresh start. I thought symbolically that a time reference, which is totally made up by humans and has no intrinsic power whatsoever, would help me change and become better. It never really worked for me.

As most of us have experienced, resolutions usually don’t turn out so well, and our grandiose idea of improvement often does not become actualised. After a few weeks or a few months at best, people get disappointed, they start doubting their ability to change, to improve, to dream. In the worst cases, they become anxious, nervous, start to despise themselves, give up and begin to think that life sucks and that one must accept his genetic/cultural/social/psychological lot… Painful, isn’t it?

I think what we all too often forget is that the realisation of our resolutions always has and always will come entirely from within.

Resolutions are nothing more than decisions.

Resolutions that fail are decisions that were not carefully thought through. They are decisions that were made half-heartedly. They were decisions that, somewhere, did not own the hard fact that they are entirely the responsibility of the decision-maker. They were decisions that relied partly on ‘hope’, not getting that hope has nothing to do with it.

Resolutions that come to fruition are nothing more than heartfelt commitments.

The problem arises when one has to decide what or who to commit to… Indeed we are so terrified of commitment nowadays. We put our own illusion of freedom above everything else, resulting in a total incapacity to choose to commit to something or someone.

But how free are you, really, when you feel like you can’t say what you think to your loved ones because it might be taken the wrong way?

How free are you, really, when you go to work every day to do something you don’t enjoy, in order to pay for things you have convinced yourself you need?

How free are you, really, when you go through life with this empty feeling that this is it, and you don’t know what to look forward to anymore?

How free are you when you believe life is this zero sum game, that there are winners and losers, and that you have to fight your way through?

No, most of us are not really free, we simply enjoy a societal illusion. This is why we are terrible at committing. We know in our heart that something is not right, but we don’t dare face it, and then we perceive new commitments as decisions that will restrain our illusory freedom. So why would we do that?

I have experienced firsthand my own fears and doubts in the face of major commitments. Whether it was the decision to quit my job in investment banking and pursue my intuition, or the decision to ask the woman I love to marry me, or the decision to invest all my savings in my own coach… All these were big commitments, and they changed me forever.

Each one of these massive heartfelt decisions helped me improve and grow, and they only came about because I decided to commit to something or someone that I chose, in my heart, to be in my life. There wasn’t a time in the calendar to tell me WHEN I should have a fresh start! I just made a decision.

New Year Resolutions are an illusion. If you want something to change in your life, make a heartfelt commitment to change it. They say the best time to plant a tree was 40 years ago. The second best time is now. That’s all you need.

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