The annual tradition of making a resolution for the new year ahead is a little odd. It implies that our ability to do so at any other time of the year is somehow diminished. Yes, I know that that is not how is is generally seen - but there is often more to any one thing that what is generally seen or accepted to be the case.
What normally happens after someone makes a new year resolution? They break it. I do not remember ever meeting anyone who did keep a resolution. The thing about these promises we make to ourselves is that, because of the nature of the thing that we want to stop, if we make a promise on a whim (how most new year resolutions are made) then we were never going to honour it anyway. Each new year brings a sense of renewal, or transcending the old and starting a new life. Obviously this is not the case, nothing about ourselves or our lives change just because we buy a new calender and have fuzzy, warm feelings inside ourselves.
Resolutions have become half-hearted attempts to feel good about ourselves for a moment. Even this, it seems, is ruled by our drive to believe that "I am a good person" (I have written about this a bit in some of my psychology-based posts, such as on Cognitive Dissonance). Life is all about feeling good - just think about it - when you feel good, life is good. When you're feeling good, you're not thinking about all the other things that are going on. When you feel bad, it's mostly thoughts centered around yourself, there are rarely thoughts about the plights of others. When we do think about other people we like to remind ourselves that we are still essentially "good", either by going through a self-talk pick-me-up, or by doing some token gesture to show our support of these other people. We like to believe that we have made a difference, but in reality the difference is negligible. We use the same approach when dealing with our resolutions. We work ourselves up to this grand idea of some "bad little habit" we will stop in the new year, we feel good and motivated - for a while - but when the hype wears off, so does our drive and commitment.
Resolutions are not real commitments anymore. But then again, how rare has it become to see real commitment? We are becoming less and less dependable and, really, less trustworthy. Look at the rising popularity of infidelity - how many services exist now based solely on creating the opportunity for married people to sleep around? Young people entering the work force have no work ethic - they spend all day on social media sites and are entirely unreliable. What is going to happen when the older generation with the good work ethic retires? The world will grind to a halt.
New year's resolutions have become a reflection of who we are: flaky, unreliable and noncommittal. We dedicate our lives to feeling good - to finding our next fix of feel good energy. What will become of us when there are no more responsible, reliable people left?
This illusion of having a "new start" at the start of every new year certainly isn't helping - we are trapping ourselves in repeating cycles.