Why You Need a New Year’s Resolution, Even If You’re Going to Fail

New Year’s resolutions seem to be falling out of favor. And trust me, I get it.

It’s become a running joke that gym membership signups skyrocket in the first month of a new year, only to be abandoned a few weeks in. This seems to be how it goes for most New Year’s resolutions.

Now our failure to live up to our own self-promises is so widely acknowledged that many people are probably tempted to give up New Year’s resolutions completely. Most people I talk to around this time of year don’t have much ambition (or at least little clear ambition) for their year ahead.

I’m asking you not to give up on change.

We need change. We aren’t really celebrating another revolution around the sun when we ring in the new year (who cares about astronomical happenings?). Change is the reason for the celebration of a new year. Our celebration of a new year would be pointless if we didn’t feel that 2018 would be different and better somehow than 2017.

We must be the ones to make it different. And that means resolving to change somehow.

Of course you should learn from the failure of past New Year’s resolutions. Make a resolution for a day, or a week – not a year. Make a resolution you can keep. Find someone to keep you accountable. Try harder. Build better systems and incentives. You get the point.

And it’s even OK if you fail.

But you must try something to make 2018 different from the 365 days you just cycled through. 

The thing that sets this day apart is people’s willingness to let the past die and create something new. The celebration of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is born from the hope of what’s to come when we change ourselves and change our world. If you join the cynics in abandoning a resolve to change, what really are you celebrating tonight?

The 365 days in a year go by fast. Don’t let another New Year’s Eve party come without creating hope for the future and earning something to celebrate.

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at jameswalpole.com.

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