A number of New Year’s-related articles make the point that it’s hard to go it alone when trying to make serious changes in your life. Being communal creatures, we do better, apparently, when we’ve got some kind of team/support system/buddy on board to help reinvent ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to announce your new goals publicly and, if possible, join hands with someone in the effort, assuming, of course, that your resolution involves something that lends itself to company.
(One of my goals for the New Year is to break out a still-TBA number of hours each week for a fiction project I’ve been nursing; obviously, no buddies can help out on that, though I may ask someone to throw a large rock through my office window if I don’t stay with my plan.)
Thinking back to the photographers’ project I blogged about here, you can see the group dynamic at work. The six made a vow that on every day of 2008, precisely at 7:15 PM, they would each take a photo and post it to their site. Especially as the momentum built, with successful week after week in the bag, you can see how the team spirit would help; nobody would want to be the shlub who blew it halfway through the year. Likewise, many people swear by an “exercise buddy” who will dynamite your lazy carcass out of bed on those 25-degree mornings, and there’s even a business devoted to same.
On the less optimistic side, a piece in today’s NY Times uses the on-off porkification recurrent weight problems of Oprah Winfrey to reinforce what we all know: Even if you’re rich and famous and have made a career out of helping others change, and even if you know millions of people are ready to A) applaud your self-control or B) guffaw as you balloon out again, it’s hard to resist immediate impulses and appetites for any kind of long-term program of change. Key quote:
“. . . to suggest that most people will never change, no matter how much they want to, seems almost, well, un-American. After all, this is a country born of change (revolution), and our most cherished historical archetypes (the Pilgrims, the pioneers, the rags-to-riches entrepreneurs) are parables of reinvention. Bookstore shelves are swollen with the latest self-help books, and life-change gurus like Anthony Robbins, Dr. Phil and, yes, Oprah are pop-culture icons.
The full piece is here.