The arrival of a New Year is commonly viewed as a clean slate, full of new opportunities and possibilities. It marks a time of renewal when people feel inspired to make positive changes in their lives. Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, quit smoking, and to perform better in school or at work, but do New Year’s resolutions really work?

With the freshness of a New Year, people believe they can be successful in achieving their goals, but after a week or two they might begin to feel that their efforts are not turning out the right results and they give up without really giving it a chance.

It’s not that New Year’s resolutions are stupid or can never work, because they can. Surely there have been plenty of people who have had success. The effectiveness of a New Year’s resolution really depends on the person’s level of determination. It takes commitment and patience to keep it going, and someone who isn’t willing to give it that probably won’t end up sticking with it.

New Year’s resolutions are brought to light even more with the help of the media, which definitely plays a large part. Commercials on television also do a pretty good job. Some of the most common are the ones advertising weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, and the prescription drug Chantix made to help people stop smoking cigarettes. Magazines devote sections in their December and January issues to discussing New Year’s resolutions and how to keep them. It is common sense that if people feel encouraged to keep going there is a higher chance that their resolutions will work.

Then there are the ones who don’t see the New Year as anything special or as a time to make resolutions. People might feel that the start of a new school year or a big move is their new year and a more appropriate time to make resolutions and decisions for the better.

Let’s be honest, it is unrealistic to think that life is going to dramatically change or that problems are going to disappear overnight just because of a specific date on a calendar. Life is still life and things obviously carry over. New Year’s resolutions are certainly not for the lazy. People can’t assume things will just change on their own, it takes time and effort.

I do believe that New Year’s resolutions can work and more power to those who keep them because it isn’t always easy, but I don’t believe that the actual New Year is the time to make resolutions, nor do I make specific resolutions myself. There is always the possibility of failure and disappointment when making any resolution at any time, so why set yourself up? Many people avoid making resolutions for that very reason, it might sound cynical but it’s true. The more realistic thing to do would be to look out at the start of something new with a positive attitude and hope that things go well.

None of this is to say that people should never make New Year’s resolutions or that they are bad and will never work, but people shouldn’t make resolutions just to make resolutions. They should make sure that the resolution actually means something because if it isn’t taken seriously then it most likely won’t work out.

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