At the end of each year, the vague yet galvanizing promise of a new cycle of 365 days may tempt you to mark the renewal with a change, say quitting smoking or losing weight.

More often than not, such a decision withers quickly in the cold light of post-new year celebration, leaving behind a funk of guilt over the failure. 

Research suggests the problem has much to do with setting unrealistic or unspecific goals whose progress is hard to measure. 

Sometimes even realistic, measurable and manageable resolutions fall by the wayside. 

The primary reason for the curse is the "new year" aspect. It's somewhat delusional for anyone to think they can finish a challenging task, probably something that was too daunting in the past, just because they will grapple with it on the first day of a new year as if things will work in their favor once the new year begins. 

That's not how breaking bad habits work. Quitting smoking, for example, requires determination, which has nothing to do with the passage time. You have a better chance of sustaining your decision to quit smoking after a loved one died due to chronic smoking than having it made on a certain date.

For ambitions that require less motivation, "New year" sounds less jarring as a modifier. Take for example the resolution to use less social media. You could pick any day to make such a resolution because it's less challenging than, say, starting your own company or going to the gym more regularly. 

Paradoxically, those seemingly easy-to-achieve goals could easily recede into oblivion because they are of little personal significance - that is, they have less of an impact on a person's life than decisions of a more important nature.  

The term New Year's resolutions might have a nice ring to it, but scratch the surface, and there is not much going on for your success in reaching your goals. The jubilant mood surrounding the new year is not strong enough in the long term to stand against the allure of whatever habits you want to tackle. A resolution is the fruit of both reason and passion. It requires cool-headed thinking about the practicality and an unconquerable resolve to pursue it. The right time for making a resolution, therefore, is not dictated by the calendar.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.

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