Quite frankly, I’m not big on the whole New Year thing. If I’m up until midnight, it’s typically because I’m trying something new with Handlebars and it isn’t working right. It’s been three years since I went to a big end-of-year party (spoilers: I was the host), and it’s not really my scene anymore.

It’s easy to concede that New Year’s parties can be lavish, but what about resolutions? We’re encouraged to set new goals, to improve ourselves, and to buy gym memberships we’ll never use. We’re supposed to change our diets, finish those manuscripts, finally get that photography gig up and going. But where does the goal setting end, and the marketing begin? Every marketing firm worth its salt knows that self-improvement is a rich market.

Are you Doing or Buying?

Two years ago I bought a jump rope, to encourage myself to do more cardio and change up my routine. I’ve barely used the damn thing (coordination is not my strong-suit). If your path to success begins with things rather than milestones, you’re probably falling prey to consumerism.

Giving yourself a reward system isn’t a bad thing, but rewarding yourself before you’ve done anything is self-defeating. If you do have a resolution, make sure that it starts with you doing things rather than you buying things. If you want to get into yoga, you don’t need to drop money on yoga clothes and expensive mats; do it. Get what you need once you actually need it.

Yeah, you’ll probably need new shoes if you want to get into running, but you won’t need wireless earbuds, a cellphone holder, and a gps watch. Go run, and get a flow going before you start buying stuff.

What’s up with Store Bought Motivation?

Have you noticed how heavily they’re pushing fitness devices lately? They’re pretty cool complements to your fitness program, if you’re the kind of person who likes working with data. I wouldn’t really recommend them for people just looking for pedometers or who aren’t already working out, though. It’s a fine thing to reward yourself with once you’ve hit a milestone, but probably a bad purchase to ‘motivate’ yourself with.

When you really think about it, buying something to motivate yourself is weird. You’re essentially rewarding yourself for thinking about self improvement, rather than actually, you know, improving yourself. The first thing you should do when you want to become a photographer is take whatever camera you have and shoot until you could do it blindfolded.

The same goes for most things. While buying something new for something you’re interested in can feel good, failing to use that thing or meet those milestones happens all too often. Speaking from experience, we often buy things that we think we’ll use without knowing precisely how we’ll use it. It’s easy to imagine that we’ll figure it out once we have it in-hand, but more often than not those splurge purchases actually get in our way.

How do you fight New Year’s consumerism? Let us know!