It's good to set goals, but if you don't meet them, it's just a waste of time. In Schaffner's view, it's no coincidence that many of us are especially interested in making positive changes after a hedonic holiday season. It's remarkable, he says, that many resolutions focus on abstinence: giving up our bad habits to cleanse our body and soul. Back to the question, are New Year's resolutions a waste of time? Not at all, but we definitely need to think about them seriously before doing them.
In general, people only think about their New Year's resolutions on New Year's Eve; they are made with the momentum of the moment and without thinking too much. It's easy to see why New Year's resolutions have been compared to having babies: making them is fun, maintaining them is difficult. Whether you want to get rid of a bad habit or adopt a new, good one, the success of your resolution depends on your ability to control yourself. New Year's resolutions are a recent tradition restricted to English-speaking countries (Thorner, 195), but starting from scratch is universal.
Many use introspection, self-examination, and future orientation to make New Year's resolutions. Dry January has substantial average effects, and even those who don't have a dry month are still likely to see benefits at six months, which is longer than most New Year's resolutions last. According to a recent YouGov survey, 35% of people who made resolutions were able to meet all of their goals, and 50% of people managed to keep some of their resolutions. The impact of not complying once again with your New Year's resolutions may be another suit to beat.
For those who don't follow this tradition, the very act of creating a New Year's resolution may seem illogical. Almost every year of my adult life, I started the New Year with a series of resolutions that I have decided to fulfill.