Why New Year’s Resolutions Never Last

Happy 2013 TwentySomethings! Due to excessive amounts of holiday-related activities including, but definitely not limited to, cookie baking eating, gift exchanging, Christmas lasagna, and cocktail consuming, my blogging seems to have taken a hiatus for the past few weeks. Please excuse/respect my absence.

With the candid splendor and revitalized spirits of a “New Year” also come unrealistic expectations to conquer all and become the Ultimate Master of Resolutions. I browse through more statuses and tweets filled with extravagant goals than I care to mention; but being the tangent-loving blogger I am, obviously I’m going to.

The girl who has never run on a treadmill in her life: Gym. Every. Day. New year, new me!
The guy who is always broke: About to cop that new Beemer before the end of the year #freshtodeath #balltoohard
The girl who loves carbs: No more carbs!

See where I’m going with this? It’s not the optimistic, go-getter attitude that I’m mocking. I love the positive energy that my social media buddies are eager to welcome into their newborn-in-2013 lives. I understand the pattern that develops once the holidays hit and career/health goals are lost in the clutter of wrapping paper and spiked eggnog. It happens. If you want to use the New Year as a catalyst for positive change in your life, cool, go for it. What I do have a tough time digesting is the initial height at which all of those individual goals are set. We’re reaching for unknown galaxies and constellations, but we can’t even see past the paint on our door frames.

There’s plenty of reasons why 95% of all New Year’s Resolutions don’t work out; and as a former NYR dropout, I’ve lived through the vicious cycle that is the month of January. There are approximately five phases that the average NY Resolutioner goes through.

Phase 1 (January 1st – January 7th): Honeymoon

We veterans refer to this as the “Honeymoon” phase because it’s damn near identical to the wave of emotions that overcome us within the first 1-3 months of a new relationship. Think about it. We’re excited about all of the new and exciting changes that accompany the beginning of our resolutions. At first, our resolutions to lose 15 pounds are desirable. Think about how great I’ll look in that polka dot bikini I never have the balls abs to wear. Taking on more responsibilities at work. And the greatest employee award goes to…this guy. Raise and promotion here I come. We’re obsessed with the finish line before we’ve even begun the race. Sounds a bit like every Taylor Swift relationship, right? Predictable, sweet and coy, yet eventually disastrous. I give you, the Honeymoon phase.

Phase 2 (January 8th – January 14th): Ninja

This is when we believe, against all odds and obstacles, that we are ninjas. We have the power to accomplish all. There is no task to big or mighty for us to handle. My boss only gave me one stack of paperwork to finish before EOD? I can breeze through two with one hand tweeting behind my back. And because we’re thriving off of the adrenaline rush we get from meeting all of our goals, we add more to our already-occupied pile. Our eyes become bigger than our brains and we search for more to handle. I ran that 1/2 mile so easily; 1 mile will be cake. In order to feel like we are sticking to the terms of our New Year’s contract with ourselves, we throw so much on our plates that we can’t find the fork and knife.

Phase 3 (January 14th – January 21st): Anxiety

We’re going 90 mph, headfirst, into a cement wall…and damn does it hurt. All of those hopes and aspirations to be “Conqueror of the Year” are drowned by the immense pressures that we’ve placed on our now struggling shoulders. Initially, our aim was set so high that the end result was all we were focused on. Psh, whoever said losing 30 pounds was hard should live in my shoes. Our logic was skewed because our eyes were fixated on that beautiful, shiny prize. By adding more and more responsibility to our workload, we realized just how far that finish line really is. It’s not going to happen in a week, probably not even a month, and that’s just too long to wait. Tasks that were once clear-cut and simple turned into complex projects that require more work, dedication, and stamina. I’m working on 47328432 projects and I haven’t even completed the first one. The next two weeks in this office WILL suck the life out of me. We become overwhelmed by our expectations; and in turn, altogether succumb to the nature of the NYR beast.

Phase 4 (January 21st – January 31st): Regression

Was past me really so bad? This is when we are faced with a choice. On our shoulders sit two very different figures. On the left is the post-resolution version of ourselves; the image we dreamt of at the very beginning of the year. Picture you sitting in your brand new office; you wearing that polka dot bikini whilst holding up your very own “fat jeans;” you standing at the finish line of the NYC marathon, smiling and sweating proudly. How symbolic and motivational. Ah, but then our minds play a fun little trick on us and create an entirely new figure to stand on our right shoulder; a representation of each of our weaknesses. I’m the happy hour you can no longer visit on Thursday because you’re too busy making ORG charts for your boss; I’m the Netflix account you haven’t utilized in a week because you spend your time arguing over the solitary treadmill at Planet Fitness. Remember me? I’m the breakfast sandwich from Brooklyn Bagel (For those of you who have been to Brooklyn Bagel, need I say more?).We’re stuck deciding between the cons of a delicious veggie cream-cheesed bagel and the pros of that 4th of July bikini. And truthfully, what sounds better: a quick chocolate fix or a quick mile-run? I’ll let you in on a little secret–normal people will always choose the chocolate. So we side with the devil, give up on our NYR completely, and revert back to our old ways, claiming we’ll try it again in a few weeks (yeah…right).

Phase 5 (February 1st – December 31st): Acceptance

Ladies and lads, we have officially reached the point of no return. We could care less about those cute little polka dot fantasies of promotions and physical fitness. All we want is to be happy; and if sitting through a Law & Order: SVU marathon beside a sleeve of Oreos every Sunday makes you happy, then you don’t worry your pretty little head about squats and overtime for one more minute! The mind is the most powerful weapon of all. When we use it for good, the world is our oyster. But the minute we start to doubt ourselves or lose even the slightest bit of confidence, we’re right back where we started–the land of complacency and comfort. But at least we have chocolate.

This year, before you try to tackle the world, try tackling that pile of dirty clothes that have been sitting in the corner of your bedroom since November 2012. Use all of that energy and motivation that the allure of a new year creates, but limit yourself to reasonable goals. Attempting to run two miles in under 15 minutes during your first gym session in six months probably isn’t the smartest way to begin a successful exercise regiment. Start slow. If you can’t run it all, walk on an incline. If you want to be recognized at work, offer your help every now and again. Taking on too many tasks at once and becoming bombarded by all of the responsibility will either make your work less efficient or burn you out completely. Be a go-getter; not a go-get-it-all-right-now (er?). On a personal level, I know how hard dieting can be. You do great for a week and then the cookie platter at work starts flirting with you on such an intense level that you can’t dismiss it. That would just be rude. I’ve found that the trick is eating in moderation. Load up on fruits, veggies, proteins, and whole grains five days out of the week. If you go to brunch on a Sunday morning and can’t stand the thought of egg whites, splurge a little. I’m not encouraging a six-egg bacon and cheddar omelet with a side of cheese fries and buttered toast, but you get the point. Treat your body like a temple, and it will love you back.

The point is, look at 2013 as a clean slate for your image. Set realistic goals for yourself that won’t tarnish because your initial expectations are higher than they should be. Think in weeks instead of months. Don’t allow your entire being to ride on the fact that you can’t lose those last five pounds. Stop worrying about the promotion you’re dying for; it will come in time. Have a positive attitude and positive changes will begin to happen. Don’t replace the things that make you happy with the things you feel like you’re supposed to be doing. You’re a twentysomething, not an Olympian (and if you’re a twentysomething Olympian, I have absolutely nothing to say to you). Never forget about your passions, never forget about the person you want to be in 2013; oh, and the chocolate. Never forget about chocolate.

Happy New Year, folks. May your resolutions last longer than Melissa Gorga’s musical career (we’re all thinking it).

Kristina Cappuccilli

20-something creative writer turned corporate, armed with big ideas and even bigger dreams. Avid reader, lover of all things musical, incessant blogger. Sucker for movie quotes, feature writing, and a good book. To inspire and be inspired.

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