New Year's Resolutions
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A Resolve on Resolutions

resolution – rezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n; noun

A firm decision to do or not to do something: she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more | a New Year’s resolution.¹

The annual making and subsequent breaking of New Year’s resolutions is as time-honored a tradition as any surrounding the holiday. We often use the first of the year, looming in the distance, to justify our actions or the lack thereof, with promises that all will be different come New Year’s Day. It is far too easy to pin our goals upon the turn of the calendar, in fact, our society encourages it. New Year’s resolutions have become a running joke, which makes me wonder: Why do we continually set ourselves up to fail?

Granted, there is nothing wrong with failure as a concept. In fact, failure is the best way to learn, and history is filled with those that tried, failed, and tried again (and so forth and so on), but why set goals for our own personal betterment that are either unrealistic or, as I suspect is most often the case, that we have no real intention of meeting?

Chances are that each of our New Year’s resolutions are based on actual needs of betterment, whether we are trying to improve our health, finances, relationships or other, and as such it is a safe bet that what we list as a focus of change is, in all actuality, a thing worth changing. But it’s hard.

Perhaps the reason that so many of us, myself included (several times), fail to keep our New Year’s resolutions is that we expect something to happen to us, not because of us. We go to bed (eventually) on New Year’s Eve fully aware of our personal shortcomings (and celebrating them accordingly), then we wake up in a fresh year thinking that somehow things should be different—that suddenly we will find the will and determination to do the things we could never do before. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

I would argue that setting goals—goals that we may desperately need to reach—as New Year’s resolutions nearly guarantees that they won’t be met. Not only will society let us off the hook, but we’ll forgive ourselves, too, at least until the calendar rolls back around. When we start something with a clear exit strategy firmly in place then we are far more prone to use it. Quitting is easy.

Rather than hinge all of our hopes upon the new year, why not set smaller, obtainable goals throughout the other months? Set a goal, work toward it, meet it and repeat. Sure, failure is always a possibility, but so is adjustment, fine-tuning, and a better understanding of our own capabilities—the latter may surprise you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve ourselves (and providing that opportunity to those we love), but to reduce our needs to the fodder of New Year’s Eve parties, the big dreams of small talk, is to reduce their value, and that’s not fair to any of us.

This year, instead of expecting instant gratification at the stroke of midnight, why not prepare for the new year with a series of smaller milestones already in place, and make them a part of your daily routine? For instance: saving for college.

Considering the above, wouldn’t it be nice if just one of your resolutions went on to bigger and better things? Say, success? It can! By now you know about ScholarShare 529, so why not let it help you save money AND provide for your child’s education (or your own, ScholarShare isn’t picky)? Seriously, what are you waiting for? Your other resolutions are excuses already, add this one and call it a win! There is a lot to say about ScholarShare and why it is one of the best option for helping people (not just in California, turns out there are people everywhere) save money for higher education, but this is what you need to know. Know it. Live it. Your resolutions will thank you.

¹Definition courtesy of the dictionary app thingy that came with my computer.

This post was written in partnership with ScholarShare and I have been compensated for it. All opinions are my own, because education is important, people, and it ain’t cheap.

Whit Honea is the author of “The Parents’ Phrase Book” and co-founder of the philanthropic organization Dads 4 Change. He is the Social Media Director/Community Manager of the Dad 2.0 Summit. His writing can be found at Fandango, GeekDad, Disney, Today, Good Housekeeping, City Dads Group, Stand Magazine, The Washington Post and several other popular publications. He previously covered travel for Orbitz, CBS and AOL, and served as Editor of Family Travel for UpTake. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable, Whit has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is the 2015 winner of the Iris Award for Best Writing.