Lifestyle, Arts & Culture

The (Un)Fortunate Reality of Resolutions

The (Un)Fortunate Reality of Resolutions

As guileless eyes still glisten from the final traces of fireworks that hang in the sky, and industrious hearts combat the effects of overeating, we sometimes find ourselves in a limbo where our body has yet to catch up with our mind. Wake up, honey. It is already February. While some are busy putting the “resolve” in resolution, we are perhaps more familiar with the bunch who see the “dissolution” of their hopes and dreams every year end.

Identifying with the latter, this writer is burdened with numerous questions on why resolutions seem to fall flat the very moment they are made, and why we continue to make them year after year anyway. Failure weaves itself intricately between the incomplete P90X schedule and the forlorn vegan meal preps, but unpacking the phrase “New Year resolution” will divulge the innate recipe for catastrophe that it is.


The “newness” of resolutions typically means that people approach them with a bullish sort of enthusiasm, especially when under the watchful gaze of spectators, be it family or friends. But the dance of death begins the moment we charge towards the muleta horns-first, allowing the matador to deliver his fatal blow. Whether killed in the ring or outside after the fight, it does not matter. Spectators only remember the vibrant gold-embroidered traje de luces sparkling in the afternoon sun and the buzz of having witnessed a glorious centuries-old performance. Therefore, pivoting our resolution upon what is new and exciting is also to expect a certain degree of unsustainability. Much like a traditional bullfight, we subscribe to the idea of resolutions with a disquietingly close expiration date and simply seek to enjoy it while it lasts.


Unpopular opinion: New Year’s Eve celebrations are overrated and increasingly accompanied by a series of weird flexes. Not only do individuals feel compelled to boast an 11 out of 10 outfits and party plans, even the nation also recently felt the need to blast fireworks for a good hour. This is all part and parcel of a strange superstition that how one spends the last few moments of a year will somehow define the new one. Resolutions have long been part of that New Year ritual, imbuing in us a false truth that a new you is only possible with a new year. The danger of relinquishing power to the hands of time is the resulting perceived lack of control over one’s locus of change. When change becomes external to oneself, shortcomings are easily validated, and procrastination is quickly justified. Things would be conceivably different should the calendar cease to define our impetus for change. 


The resolve to commit to one’s New Year’s resolutions lies on a scale of one to Marie Kondo.

While the professional Japanese organiser might have been in the business of tidying for years now, what she is really selling is the notion of will, control, and fulfilment. Less about the sweat and tears and more of what sparks joy, the KonMari stance is something worth extending beyond the realm of housekeeping. The idealistic manner in which resolutions are created often catch us between a rock and a hard place where we feel like we are methodically going through our resolutions simply for the sake of it. However, finding the satisfaction and purpose in the process, not just the end result, might be what we are lacking in the resolve department.

Despite resolution efforts constantly coming to nought, there is something quite commendable about the grit in which we pursue them anyway. For as long as Earth continues to spin and media outlets egg us on with saccharine positive listicle articles, we are likely going to keep at it. To the naysayers touting millennials as the generation who cannot handle failure, here is a massive middle finger.

The tenacity to constantly renew oneself, even if unsuccessful, is essentially intrinsic to the amelioration of the human condition. It is also one of the reasons why 2019 will herald some exciting things. We are talking about things like expanding and deepening the body positivity conversation, embracing sustainable fashion, and entertaining the possibility of origami-esque foldable mobile phones.

After all, if we are unable to take the scarlet cape from the matador, we might as well dance with him.


Words by Valerie Wong