A story about “good” resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are an admirable and alluring concept. It seems wise to reflect, reassess, rework, and renew with annual regularity, and to stop for enough conscious contemplation to systematically switch gears. I like the ritual. I like that we come together in our simultaneous ventures towards transformation. But I struggle with the sideways sentiments that too often steer our aspired self-improvements: Get fit. Abolish debit. Be “happy.” Sneaky shoulds and subtle supposed tos and other bossy societal norms tend to drive our universal understandings of what it takes to be a “good human.” That’s what resolutions are, really: good intentions, molded around silent apologies for all of the ways that we aren’t up to speed. … You do not have to be good. … About 90% of us fail to accomplish our resolutions every year. Psychologists and cultural experts have all sorts of explanations for this seemingly deplorable statistic: Our goals are too hazy or unrealistic. We try to adjust too many habits at once. We need more accountability. But the bigger problem, I think, is our misunderstanding of the way change works. Metamorphosis is a slow and sloppy process. It only succeeds when we’re willing to invite speed bumps and potholes and reversals and breakdowns into our paths of progress. Its only lasting fuel is that of genuine gut instinct and heartfelt motivation. Should and supposed to are not sustainable forces for forward motion. … You do not have to be good. … But we prefer quick fixes. We want new now and better faster. We want roadmaps to follow and to blame when we get lost. So we let should lead the way. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has topped best-seller lists for months on end — life-changing, in 224 pages. BluePrintCleanse makes somewhere around $100 million in revenue each year, and sales of the cold-pressed juice program will likely skyrocket in these first weeks of January. I can’t browse the internet without encountering a barrage of ads for online courses that promise to help me get rich quick or gain 10,000 email subscribers or double my social media following. And the headline on the latest US Magazine cover reads, “Find Out How Khloe Kardashian Lost 11 Pounds Without Exercising,” alongside other scattered promises to share the “secrets” to sustainable weight loss. Our commercial economy masquerades as an instruction manual for human transformation and self-actualization. THIS,…
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