It’s February now which means the majority of the New Year’s resolutions are dying poor miserable deaths with no one noticing. Unjust, in my opinion, considering the nobility of their purpose.
I don’t know where this custom comes from, I just know it’s become a part of mainstream culture. New Year is a potent thing in human psychology, giving the human conscience a sense of progression and returning home at the same time.
New Year’s resolutions are supposed to be the beginning of grand endeavours, the start of epic adventures, the birth of proud achievements.
Then why do people abandon their proud resolutions? Do they not want their wishes to succeed?
I think the death of new year’s resolution has the same origin as everyday procrastination. It all comes to how people perceive themselves.
When there is a chore to be done, most of us face it with “I’ll do it later.” When later comes around, the reaction is always the same: “Why did I not do this before? Then I wouldn’t have to be doing it now.”
This sounds awfully similar to giving someone else the chore we don’t want to do. “I don’t want to do this. You do it.” has exactly the same emotional background as “I’ll do it later,” except that the person we give the chore is ourselves in the future. And when we get a chore from our past selves, we react as if someone had given us their own chore to perform. “Why do I have to do this? Why couldn’t you do it instead?”
It seems as if we see our future selves as a different person. We also see our past selves as a different person and the roles are similar to that of a lazy parent and a whinny teenager.
We treat our future selves as our offspring and we treat our past selves as our ancestor.
When we make a New Year’s resolution, what we’re saying is: “I would really like to have this/do that/go there. I don’t want to invest effort into it right now but I’m sure my offspring will do it for me.” Then, when we’ve become our future selves, our reaction is: “Why didn’t my ancestor do this instead of me? If they’d worked hard for it, I could have had it by now. I’m not going to do it for them.”
This is what a bad relationship between a parent and a child sounds like.
So what does a good relationship between a parent and a child sound like?
A parent could say: “I know this needs to be done. I know I can’t do it by myself but I can at least do some of it so that my child won’t have to do all of it.”
A child could say: “My parent has already done so much to achieve this goal. It would be shameful of me not to do the last bit of it, especially since I will benefit from it as well. I will do it.”
A bad ancestor accuses its offspring of laziness even though they did nothing to help the offspring with its task. A good ancestor meets their offspring halfway. Half the work is done when the offspring comes along. The offspring can see the love and support of its ancestor, receives its legacy, and humbly continues with the work.
A new year’s resolution is pointless if all you do at that specific moment is make a wish. That’s just putting all the pressure of making it happen on your future self. Don’t simply wish for the achievement. Start actively planning it, visualizing it and start immediately working on it. Write down your results of the day. When you wake up the next day, your new self will see its ancestor’s work and will be inspired to follow suit, leaving a greater legacy for its own offspring.
We human beings are strange things. Instead of seeing the world as it is, we choose to see a warped image of it and then instead of trying to reconcile that image with reality, we prefer to seek excuses for the difference between them. Imagine what we could do if we didn’t treat ourselves as petulant children or as annoying parents and instead see all of our past and future selves as a proud dynasty…