Ahh….. January 1st…. what New Year’s Day would be complete without a darkly thudding hangover, one broken high heel (or two), the need for massive amounts of carbohydrates and the determination to do better this year. In a word: Resolutions. Humanity embraces resolutions like a flotation device in a storm-tossed sea. They are a second chance in capital letters – an uncashed IOU to the Universe that this time, this year, we will get it right.

The Industry of Resolution
And resolutions are not just the province of us frail and failing individual human sinners, but are also the terra firma upon which hundreds if not thousands of industries are built. Without the gluttony of November and December, why would the shiny chrome temples of Bally’s and Equinox loom so large in January? And its not just the gym – January resolutions have given rise to a spectacular seasonal push for industries as diverse as career building, match making, financial planning, and of course, weight loss. That clean and snowy white blank calendar inspires in most people the belief, and fervent hope, that 12 months in the future lies a trimmer, smarter, richer, fitter human being, clutching an attractive mate, and setting off for a well deserved vacation, preferably on a private island.

Millennials Resolutions: Ummm, No.
But is this tradition of gluttony and repentance a rhythm that is slowly and softly fading? We queried a number of millennials, and asked about the resolutions they might be making for 2015. We were met with a) laughter; b) irony and c) an inquiry as to why we thought they might need to change anything about themselves??? Resolutions to this group seemed silly, weak and almost atavistic. In a world dominated by 140 word tweets and 6 second vines, with headlines and politics changing overnight, the thought of pre-planning personal change and direction over the endless course of 12 months seems impractical, and certainly, uninteresting.

Millennials are not looking to make long-term plans for dramatic changes in their personas, or to lay out a step-by-step direction to a new and somewhat fantastical life. This is the multi-hyphenate generation: a population of bartenders/stockbrokers/jewelry makers. If they want to be or do something, they do it. If they dream of moving to Costa Rica, it is something they can make happen through Airbnb overnight travel apps, and a deeply connected social network. The recession and retraction of opportunities have fostered in this cohort a freedom and an imagination to try and experience a vast range of identities. And, since the traditional path of career training/marriage and family seems financially out of reach, there seems little to stand in the way of pursuing constant personal growth, 24/7. The extended time to play and try has resulted in a new creation economy that fans the belief that anything is possible for anyone, at anytime.

What is interesting is that the origin of the word resolution – for both the French and the Latin form – to break into smaller parts. The word resolution then came from the idea of breaking down larger goals into smaller manageable steps. Perhaps these baby steps were necessary in the more structured and perhaps more tenured world of past generations. Resolutions speak to the idea of working in steps toward a better life. Millennials call those goals, and embark upon them the day they make them.

The Future of Self-Improvement?
So what do the Bally’s, Weight Watchers, and Monster.coms do in the months ahead? Well, that generous slice of the world’s population that live in the land of Boomers and X-ers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Their planners are out, and their apps are plugged in – resolution ready! But if these companies are looking to tap into the next group of reformists, they will need to rethink their time frames.

Carpe Diem!

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