Should We Bother Making Resolutions?

New Year's Resolutions and GoalsBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

What does it say about human nature that we continue to make resolutions every January even when year after year we fail to keep them?

Maybe that failure isn’t such a bad thing.

In Season 3 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a teenage character named Nog wants to apply to Starfleet academy to become an officer. This wouldn’t be strange except for one thing.

Nog is a Ferengi.

For those of you not familiar with the Star Trek world, Ferengi are motivated by profit. Their self-worth depends on how business savvy they are. No Feregi has ever joined Starfleet because there’s no profit in it. They’re not even members of the United Federation of Planets.

But Nog wants something different. His father doesn’t have the “lobes for business” and Nog knows he doesn’t either. He doesn’t want to spend his life a failure.

So he decides to apply for Starfleet. Everyone tells Nog he won’t make it. Before he can even apply, he has to pass a battery of pre-tests. He fails. And fails again.

When it comes to the resolutions we make, the goals we set for ourselves, whether we make them at the beginning of the year or some other time, many of us are like Nog. Failure after failure piles up.

But we keep making them for a simple reason.

Making resolutions, setting goals, even if we fail, means we want to be better. (Tweet that)

Nog wanted to join Starfleet because he wanted something better for himself.

I used to rebel against resolutions and talk about how stupid they were. After all, if you really wanted to change, wouldn’t you just change? And didn’t most people break their resolutions before January was over anyway?

But my thinking has shifted a little recently. Whether we want to call them resolutions or goals, whether we make them in January or July, it’s important for us to be regularly evaluating our lives, deciding what we’re unhappy with, and figuring out what we can actively do to try to make those things better.

If I’m being honest, part of my past rebellion against “resolutions” was my fear of setting a goal I couldn’t reach. (I am a type A perfectionist after all.) I didn’t want to embarrass myself with a failure. I didn’t want to face the disappointment of wanting something and not achieving it.

That attitude won’t get me anywhere. So I’ve set some extremely ambitious goals for myself this year. And maybe I will fail. But at least I’ll have tried. At least I’ll be one step closer to being who I want to be and to having the kind of life I want to have.

What’s one big goal you’ve set for this year? Do you hate resolutions?

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Image Credit: Miguel Saavedra (from sxc.hu)

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