The Problem With New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, we’re inundated with people telling us what their resolutions are. “I’m going to get up at 7am every day.” “I’m going to drink 6 liters of water every day.” “I’m going to exercise 6 days a week.”

First, I don’t fucking buy it. You’re not going to do those things; why even pretend that they’ll last a week? Why are you sharing with the world these ridiculous goals? If you wanted to get up earlier, just start doing it. Don’t wait until the 1st to start a new habit.

It’s tempting to join the crowd. “Hey, what are your New Year’s Resolutions going to be?” Everyone is doing it. Why not? The holidays are over, you’ve gained some weight, you’re reflecting on how much better you think your life should be.

It’s kind of honorable, in a naive optimistic sense. It’s the thought that counts, right?

No: the way we approach resolutions is totally wrong.

Don’t fill up your life with meaningless checkboxes.

People seem to want to build more habits. “Every day I’m going to meditate for 30 minutes.” Why are you doing this? Why have you decided to build the perfect morning, or make a certain amount of money, or whatever flavor of the week trick?

Here’s what you should really be doing:

Figure out your goals for the next year. Break those into meaningful chunks of a few weeks or months.

(or don’t. Continue to resolve to go to the gym for the first 2 weeks of every year.)

Here are my goals for this year, since you asked:

  • Write a book. I’ve wanted to; why not? If a book is 100000 words, I can get it done by writing about 275 words per day.
  • Make a major change in my life. Move away from Santa Barbara, get a different job, find a serious girlfriend, get a dog. I don’t know. Wheels are in motion; I’ve got to keep them in motion.
  • Learn enough about BioInformatics to either get a job in it next year, or decide to go back to school in it, or decide its not for me. Stop complaining once and for all about not being on the front lines of cool medical science work and either figure out how to get into it or give it up.
    • As part of this, learn Python
  • Get down to 10% body fat. Last year I got down to 13-14% before the holidays destroyed my progress; I can get down to 10%. Why? 10% is where the abs are visible.

But there you have it. Not a single meaningless resolution.