The value of a New Year’s resolution

On 1 January every year, one of the most common questions asked must be: “Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?”  Why do people make resolutions only once a year?  What is special about New Year’s Day?

The first thing to recognise about resolutions are that they are generally based around something that someone doesn’t want to do – but they realise that in order to reach an advantageous conclusion, they should do it.  People do not want to stop eating chocolate, but they do want to be thinner.  People do not want to spend more time at work, but they do want to be considered for promotion.  In general, resolutions do not centre around something that someone wants to do, because ordinarily the person would be doing it anyway.

Once this point is established, it becomes clearer why public resolutions are made.  First, the New Year establishes a clear start point for action – taking control of the time period out of the person’s hands (avoiding delays from procrastination or simply putting things off).  Second, the public nature of these resolutions introduces a form of punishment for not achieving them – not only do you not reach the endpoint you want, but you will also be perceived as a failure for doing so.  Even if people have forgotten about your resolution by the end of the week, you will still perceive that they perceive you as a failure, which is all that matters.

Taking that into account, my New Year’s resolution is to write a new entry on this blog at least once a month.

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