Old habits die hard


As the UCD campus buzzes again with new hopes for 2011, James O’ Connor explores the concept of New Year’s resolutions

At the beginning of another new year, each and every one of us will be thinking about one thing: New Year’s resolutions. The more pessimistic among us will conclude that a resolution is just a failure waiting to happen.

However, in 2011 it is time to rely more on optimism. In 2011, we can look to American blogger Perez Hilton for inspiration, who expresses a desire to continue on path that he is on during a video blog posted recently on his website. In the coming year, Hilton is also hoping to realise some very common resolutions surrounding health, love and self-improvement.

Perez may express himself a little bit more outlandishly than most, but his resolution to look “banging” naked is one that many of us will be taking on board this January. Every festive season, that one turkey sandwich that is one too many results in huge numbers flocking to gyms around the country. Wannabe enthusiasts sign up for everything from spinning classes to Pilates in the hope that by the time the summer rolls around, the holiday weight will be a thing of the past.

Perusing New Year’s resolutions online will present variations of “fall in love,” “tell her that I love her,” and “take a bubble bath with a loved one”. Perhaps a lonely New Year’s Eve forces many of us to look back on a bad year and hope that the next twelve months will allow us to find that special someone.

Again, Hilton is in search of love. His pursuit, combined with his penchant for all things internet-based, has taken him into the world of online dating, describing himself as either “desperate” or “determined”. Others will use more traditional methods of finding love, such as frequenting late bars and nightclubs.

Volunteering is also one of many noble causes that huge numbers pledge to support at the beginning of each year. Once again, we can look to Hilton for inspiration. He expresses a belief that senior citizens are forgotten and not cherished as they should be, and vows to visit a nursing home near his own house as regularly as possible. Some will promise to give of their time, others will promise to give of their money with each being greatly appreciated by worthy causes.

Other common New Year’s resolutions include quitting smoking, quitting drinking or learning something new such as a language or skill. Unfortunately, it is not simply the thought that counts when it comes to resolutions and many fall short – some quicker than others. One friend of mine admitted that his plan to stop drinking in 2011 lasted no more than three seconds – the time it took him to say “Happy New Year” after the countdown. Others suggest the majority of people have broken their resolution by January 18th.

In chemistry, the process of reducing or separating something into its components is known as resolution. Studies show that people who kept their resolutions tended to have broken their goal into smaller steps and rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these. Other success stories included Twitter updates that allowed friends to offer encouragement.

While the advice allegedly needed to succeed is readily available online, it is also argued that New Year’s resolutions are not beneficial at all. Psychologists have argued that making resolutions is almost destined to fail. Instead of improving ourselves, we break them, become dispirited in the process and finally more discouraged than we were before.

One interesting theory is that New Year’s resolutions are an excuse to live hedonistically in the short term, because all will be redeemed come January 1st. The fact that it is easier to put things on the long finger means we do not choose today as the day of significance.

On a lighter note, a New Year’s challenge is just around the corner for those who wish to seek it. Monina Velarde, a self-professed optimistic graphic designer working in Chicago, created a New Year’s Resolution Generator (http://bit.ly/53qNTx). As a result, I have taken it upon myself to learn Italian. Other resolutions include not having any resolutions this year and simple tasks like drinking more water.

To sum up, resolutions are part and parcel of every festive season. If everyone is to be believed, then we are in for a great year. We can all look forward to an addiction-free year allowing time for intermittent breaks; for bubble baths; for time with loved ones; and to show off our fantastically sculpted bodies. Here’s to 2011.