On The Rampage: Self-improvement’s For Life, Not Just For The New Year
Christmas is over and now that you’ve stuffed yourself stupid with chocolate, turkey and pudding, society tells us that it’s time to improve ourselves in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Logically, the New Year is the perfect time for a new start. You’ve spent all year eating badly, smoking, drinking too much and refusing to exercise, so now’s the time to turn yourself into the perfect person.
However, for some of us, this approach turns January into the most dreadful time of the year.
While it feels logical to start afresh in the New Year, why wait? What’s stopping you from going for a run post-Halloween, or deciding to become a non-soy vegan in the wake of Easter? The onslaught of resolutions in the New Year may seem like a good idea, but it often just makes sanctimonious annoyances out of everyone.
Inevitably, people start new diets and exercise regimes in the New Year. After the excesses of Christmas, people want to turn over a new leaf. It’s understandable to want to cut out some junk in the wake of the gluttony of Christmas, but do you really need to tell everyone in your social circle and office about how you’re really not into chocolate anymore, or how yoga has helped you balance your appetite for the New Year? Detoxing should be a personal journey, but the title of New Year’s resolution seems to turn any new habit into an excuse for everyone to blab constantly about their eating, exercise and personal regimes.
It’s not that we’re against personal improvement here at Ramp.ie. We’re just against oversharing. It’s very difficult to take seriously someone who won’t shut up about their new found passion for wheatgrass. It’s also irritating when someone airily mentions their willpower in relation to their pilates class, when it’s clear that it will be long forgotten by Valentine’s Day.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they basically set you up for failure. Once the parties have died down, the first question people tend to ask of each other is what their resolutions are. The pressure of becoming a new person simply because it’s a new year is ridiculous. Self-improvement works much better when you’re properly committed to it, instead of creating a half-arsed attempt simply because of a date. Of course, the New Year can provide an excuse for some people to try and start, or quit, something that they’ve been meaning to do for months, but in general, self-improvement can and should happen any time. Instead, New Year’s resolutions have become an excuse for people to tell us just how many sit-ups they’re doing, or how many cigarettes they haven’t smoked.
As I tend not to engage in New Year’s resolutions (mostly due to a contrary disposition and a dislike of doing something personal unless I’m actively interested in doing it), I’m sick of hearing from the people who do. It’s something people relish in bragging about and it’s hard to see why. Surely it’s more admirable and cool to undertake a change in your life at any other stage in the year, when you actually want to do it, as opposed to an arbitrary date when everyone decides to be virtuous?
Of course, this rant is mostly down to my own grumpiness and dislike of being the only unhealthy mess surrounded by virtuous resolution-ers, but there are upsides to being a cranky person regarding New Year’s resolutions. There’s the inevitable schadenfreude when your friend accidentally-on-purpose forgets to go to yoga come February or when your sister falls off the healthy eating wagon and goes back to inhaling party sized bags of crisps like a normal person.
It’s also good to encourage this culture of self-improvement year round. After a post-university weight gain when I left college in September, I started exercising properly. There was no point in waiting until January, as I’d have likely ballooned further. See, sometimes there’s no point in waiting for the push of New Year’s. Resolutions to improve yourself should come when the impetus is there.
Plus you can be cool and indie, telling everyone that you started your resolutions back in September, way before everyone else thought it was cool.