It’s now 2014, and everyone is talking about New Year's Resolutions. The gyms are packed. People are buying fruit and kale in bulk for their healthy smoothies. Facebook and Twitter posts describe Resolutions in detail.
The age-old joke is that New Year's Resolutions only last until February, when that "clean slate" feeling wears off and people start to settle back into their routines. Yet most news outlets are running at least one New Year's Resolution story, whether it's to provide insight into the religious and cross culture nature of New Year's Resolutions, advise against New Year's Resolutions or even to dictate New Year's Resolutions for the individual who doesn't feel like making his or her own.
Whether cynical or hopeful, our society is forever fixated on New Year's Resolutions. New Year's Resolutions make society feel hopeful, give people a sense of purpose, and add a sense of magic into our lives.
Even though December 31st isn't in reality that different from January 1st, the New Year can be a very hopeful time for people who feel disappointed in the previous year. In that ten second countdown, it can feel as if that previous year never existed.
It's true that goals can be set any time during the year. Yet, knowing that several others are also setting New Year's Resolutions can be extremely motivating. That peer pressure can create an urgent sense of purpose.
Adding a sense of ceremony and magic into New Year's can save people from the doldrums of the after Christmas blues. The Christmas tree will be recycled and Starbucks will stop selling their peppermint mocha. People must have something else on which to focus their attentions.
In reality, the whole concept of a New Year's Resolution is a complete illusion. Perhaps, like the Romans who supposedly started this tradition, we all need the myth of the New Year's Resolution. By the time February hits, the gyms will clear out, people will start preparing their feasts of wings for the Superbowl and the Facebook and Twitter posts will ramble on about some other new fad.