The New Year is a traditional time of making resolutions and commitments to things we would like to achieve. Most of us in the past have made lists of resolutions, be it to give up smoking, lose weight or find new love. Of course we start off with some initial surge of enthusiasm and determination, then the days and weeks pass the commitment wears thin and often the underlying issues that created the initial obstacles reveal themselves and draw us back into our old habits. Of course, there are some people who succeed. These lucky few posses an iron will, who when needed, can commit to whatever they want and get the job done.
Given the amount of people in the Western world who are trapped in one form of addiction or another, from alcohol, illegal and legal drugs, coffee, sugar, sex, TV, video games, fitness, work or any other of the numerous things that we can be addicted to. This of course isn’t even talking about the less obvious or less measurable addictions, such as thoughts and feelings that many people could be deemed addicted to. All this it would seem to indicate that the “iron will” it not something the vast majority of us possess. We have a picture of a society made of individuals who struggle to change and transform into who they want to be.
If each person in the UK had to make a list of things they wanted to change about themselves, I would guess it would be largely made of things they would like to “stop doing”, habits to kick, and patterns to dissolve. We now have thousands of industries, products and services all assuring and promising the fulfilment of these wishes. The most obvious example is the weight loss industry; figures show in the USA alone in 2006 55 billon dollars was spent on weight loss. With this huge investment people are making the results are astounding, surprise surprise, obesity in the USA is on the rise and predicted to be the main cause of death in the next fifty years. Each person of course wants to be believe, and is told to believe that even though diets do not work for most (95% the figures show long term) they will be different, their pride and fear drives them to invest in a system that has a history of failure. If it was a medicine that you were told would cost you $100 but only ever worked on 5% of the people would you buy it? The clincher and the hook the weight loss industry has is the success of the program, diet or whatever is being sold depends on the will power of the person. If you are strong enough, disciplined enough then it can work. What people fail to see metaphorically speaking, the company who owns the diet shop also owns the sweet shop across the street. Each desire is being played off each other.