New Year’s Eve is a fine time to take stock of your life in the past year and plan ahead. In other words, it is time for that totally bizzare modern day ritual: the New Year resolution.
Why do people make New Year resolutions?
At one level, New Year resolutions are private deals with oneself. Thou shall not sin any longer and all that. They offer insights into our deepest worries, most of them related to weight if you are above a certain age.
But at another level, they are commitments made to loved ones. It makes strategic sense to bring your family into your resolutions, since not living up to them will lead not to transitory private guilt but to constant reminders from spouses and children about how you strayed from the chosen path. Psychological costs are larger when families are brought into resolutions, and any economist will tell you that higher costs ensure more credible commitments.
But the problem is that most resolutions are not made by rational people but by party animals often thinking in an alcoholic haze.