Graphic illustration expressing a person overwhelmed with their New Year’s resolutions. (Photo Anna Woodward)
Graphic illustration expressing a person overwhelmed with their New Year’s resolutions.

Photo Anna Woodward

New Year, new me?

New Year's resolutions can do more harm than good

January 7, 2021

It’s January; we all know what that means: get a gym membership, promise yourself you’ll eat healthier, get organized, etc. New Year’s resolutions dominate life for this first month, but they’re not as great as they sound.

For starters, New Year’s resolutions are constraining. When looking to reach a goal, you should be doing it because you want to, not because you feel obligated to due to a calendar date. If you’re not motivated or actually passionate about your goal, how will you reach it? According to Forbes, “every year more than 50% of people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, work out, save money, get a promotion, get a raise, and more. And yet, virtually every study tells us that around 80% of New Year’s resolutions will get abandoned around this month [February].”

Most resolutions seem to be made in haste. Personally, every time I’ve tried to make a New Year’s resolution, it was decided the night before and forgotten because it had no foundation. It’s much more effective to plan and lay out the steps for your goal instead of relying solely on emotional expectations.

Oftentimes, New Year’s resolutions can even backfire when you tell yourself that you’re going to work towards being a better person, whether mentally, physically, or emotionally; it raises the stakes and opens the door for pressure. No progress will be made unless a goal is set when you’re in a healthy mindset and ready to devote yourself to that goal without feeling insecure or doubting yourself.

Since many resolutions are based on long-term goals like working out or getting good grades, it doesn’t make sense to rush the process. When you don’t see resolution results within the first month or so, it’s hard to keep going. Thus, goals should be made because you want to, not because you feel obligated to make a New Year’s resolution.

For high schoolers, January can be a busy time with starting the third quarter or second semester, finishing college applications, etc. There’s no time to create a habit, especially since studies have shown that the average amount of time to form a habit is 66 days. I don’t know about others, but there’s no way I would be able to take on a task and continue it for two months straight unless it was something I could easily put in my daily routine. In the least negative way possible, why make a New Year’s resolution if you’re unable to solidify it until March? Save yourself the stress, and focus on attainable and better-planned goals.

That being said, not all New Year’s resolutions are bad. However, they should be approached with low expectations. Some, like telling yourself you’ll tidy your room once a week or will read a book a month, are much more attainable than telling yourself you must go to the gym every day or go cold-turkey on sweets.

New Year’s resolutions are supposed to help you feel better about yourself. While intentions are usually good, it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of following your resolution. Instead of putting a deadline on your self-growth, work to ingrain it in your life because you want to.

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