Asking the Important Questions: a series of not so important questions that have crossed my mind. Some more trivial than others.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I spend my life waiting for Monday to start trying to better myself, and when December rolls around, I forget about the Monday’s and use the new year as an excuse to eat whatever I want and stop exercising (really paying for this one now, I’m back at work and my jeans hurt to sit down in!) and spending all my money on things I don’t need. Why? Because come January 1, I’ll start working on my resolutions.
It’s just over a week since we rung in the new year and committed to our resolutions to make us a better people. Just as I always find myself thinking at the start of the year, I can’t believe how quickly 2018 passed by. And then I got to wondering why the heck do we wait for the start of a new year to try and be better?
Procrastinating is irresistible
For me especially, procrastination is a big reason as to why I will wait to start anything. I love to procrastinate in anything I do, I’ve even procrastinated writing this post for weeks, and if other people are procrastinating, then I’m sure as heck joining in.
New Years resolutions are a form of cultural procrastination. It’s okay to keep eating and putting off going to the gym, or spending money for the sake of it because everyone else is doing it and planning to stop when the calendar rolls over to a brand new year, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. It’s like we need a big event to get ourselves started when in fact we could wake up tomorrow morning and decide that today is the day, even if that day isn’t a Monday!
We’re used to failing because of generic goals
I don’t know about you, but I often make my resolutions very generic and immeasurable, with no real goal to have achieved by the end of the year. I want to lose weight, I want to save money, I want to read more books. How much weight do I want to lose? How much money do I want to have saved? How many books is enough books?
I wouldn’t class losing two lbs by the end of the year as a personal success, but I technically will have lost weight, so does that mean I achieved my resolution? Technically, yes, but not as well as I’d hoped.
I’ve made the same resolution ‘to lose weight’ every year for as long as I can remember, and by the time I get to around June and I’ve seen no change, I shrug it off with a ‘there’s always next year’ and wait for January 1 again.
Research has suggested that giving yourself a measurable goal to achieve increase the chances that you’ll actually achieve it, so instead of ‘I’m going to lose weight’, it becomes ‘I’m going to lose x lbs’. And instead of ‘I’m going to go to the gym more’, it becomes ‘I’m going to go to the gym x times a week’.
We want to enjoy Christmas
One of the best things about Christmas is all the food and sweets that you allow yourself to eat because ‘ah, fuck it, it’s Christmas’. No one has the willpower to resist a second helping of Christmas dinner, or stuffing their face with cheese and biscuits or eating chocolate for breakfast – and if you do, I wanna know how!
Christmas is all about family and celebration and a lot of that involves eating and drinking more than you normally would. I don’t even want to think about how many calories I consumed over the month of December, but they equated to me gaining about half a stone… Just making it easier to lose weight as one of my 2019 resolutions?
All mentions of food aside, Christmas is a time we all tend to take a deep breath and relax and lose our inhibitions for a little while. We eat too much, we spend too much, if we’re lucky enough (I know some aren’t) we spend our days off work being lazy. We don’t want to think about our savings accounts, or how much we weigh or that we’ve played five games in a row instead of reading a book or watching the news.
We like the idea of something more than actually doing it
The idea of being fit and healthy and dropping three dress sizes is a lot more desirable than spending an hour a day in the gym and eating nothing but salad (especially for me as I hate salad).
From doing some googling, the average amount you need to lose to drop three dress sizes is around 45 lus (just over three stone) so say you lose an lb week, that’s 45 weeks it’s gonna take you to achieve your goal, 45 weeks from whenever you start it; and starting on January 1 doesn’t mean you get some sort of magical head start.
To lose an lb, you need to have a total calorie deficit of 3,500 which means you have to burn 3,500 calories more than you consume (according to what I found on Google, anyway!), so cutting back on the chocolate and crisps and alcohol is just as necessary as keeping active. Unfortunately, the mentality of working out so you can eat whatever you want isn’t going to see you achieving your goal.
Does it work?
Research suggests that by February, 80% of people have given up on their resolutions. Way more than half of the people who make resolutions for the year give up in the second month. And out of the 20% left, only 8% of those actually achieve the goals they set at the start of the year.
We put so much pressure on ourselves at the start of the year to make it the best one yet, and make ourselves the best us we’ve been when in reality, life is unpredictable and we don’t know what the next 12 months are going to hold. So waiting for the start of the year to be better doesn’t really have any massive pros, though you could argue that the motivation is high because everyone is in the same boat.
With all this being said, I have made some resolutions for 2019 (specific ones that I can actually keep track of!) and in the hope that telling people what they are will increase the likelihood of me achieving them, these are the personal goals that I want to achieve by the end of the year:
- To lose 25 pounds and not get demotivated when my weight fluctuates
- End the year with £3000 in my personal savings account (Minimum of £250 saved a month)
- To read 30 books
- Take at least one Polaroid a month
Have you made any New Years resolutions? Did you bite the bullet and start before the New Year? Or are you waiting for Monday?