New Year, Same Me: Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Total BS
At the beginning of every new year, we are all drawn to the age-old temptation of whipping out our notes app and typing out a lengthy list of New Year’s resolutions. Many take this time of year as an opportunity to think about all the things we all wish we were better at or want to “improve” about ourselves. Whether it’s a new hobby we want to try, changes we want to make in our relationships, or the number we want to see on the scale, New Year’s resolutions often focus on what is lacking in our lives. I’m here to say that you need to put down the notes app and throw your resolutions out the window. The fact is clear — New Year’s resolutions are total BS.
Let’s be honest. I don’t know a single person who keeps their New Year’s resolutions. Every time January 1 rolls around, we all formulate a list of changes we want to make in the new year. By February, most (if not all of them) have been completely abandoned. We’re doling out cash on a gym membership we never use, and that handy budgeting spreadsheet we formulated is in total disarray. New Year’s resolutions can be considered BS for that reason alone — we never keep them! According to a report by Statistic Brain, only 9.2% of resolution-makers will achieve all of their goals. So, there’s less than a one in ten chance you’ll be one of them. Why bother making promises we most likely won’t keep? When we inevitably don’t keep our resolutions, we end up feeling worse than we did prior to making them, feeling like we’re failures for not achieving goals that may have been unrealistic in the first place.
“I always find that the pressure of the New Year’s resolution is more damaging than anything else,” says Miranda Levy, a college student who admits she’s made many New Year’s resolutions in the past. “Feeling as if I’ve failed for not checking off one bullet point on a list seems ridiculous.”
Another issue lies in that most New Year’s resolutions focus on one thing in particular: weight loss. According to the same report by Statistic Brain, the most popular New Year’s resolution that people make is to lose weight or eat healthier. While making it a point to be healthier in the new year is, of course, an admirable goal, focusing too much on the numbers can prove extremely detrimental to your mental health. For way too many years, a trend in my New Year’s resolutions was simple: lose twenty pounds, lose fifteen pounds, etc. Focusing on a specific number set up huge expectations for myself, without focusing on the reasons why I wanted to lose weight in the first place. Oftentimes, it wasn’t that I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. Rather, it was simply that I wanted to fit into what I perceived as more desirable in our society and by the opposite sex.
Instead of focusing on the number of pounds you might want to lose in the new year, first consider the reasons for why you want to lose weight. Are you eating more fast food than maybe you should? Do you drive everywhere, even when places are close enough to walk? Rather than making sweeping resolutions for the new year, perhaps try to implement healthier choices into your everyday routine. It’s much easier to focus on your day-to-day choices than huge numbers or the year as a whole. Or, perhaps better yet, stop focusing on losing weight unless it’s actually affecting your health or your life in a negative way. Find clothes that flatter your body and make you feel like your best self. Focus on a qualitative goal instead of a quantitative one. For example, cross out “lose X pounds” and write “feel better in my body” or “smile when I look in the mirror.” Learn to look at yourself and truly love what you see. You’ll feel better instantly and have a much healthier view of yourself — no potentially toxic resolutions necessary.
Other than focusing on daily changes, what other alternatives are there to standard New Year’s resolutions? A perfect place to start is rather than writing out a list of goals and changes you want to make in the next year, instead, write a list of everything you’ve accomplished in the past year. Did you start a new job that you love? Did you travel to new places or make any new friends that you couldn’t imagine your life without? Perhaps you learned new nourishing recipes this year or started a yoga or mindfulness routine. Every year, we move forward and make progressive changes towards who we want to be in the future. Rather than focusing on things you drastically want to change about your life, consider all the amazing changes you’ve already made and how you can keep going on that same path.
New Year’s resolutions are tricky. On the one hand, they can help us think about goals we want to achieve in the coming year or motivate us to make healthy changes in our lives. On the other, they can leave us feeling disappointed when we inevitably don’t live up to our own expectations. Far too often, we create a New Year’s resolution that simply can’t be achieved on our own — i.e. “find an S/O,” “improve relationship with parents,” etc.
Now, say it with me: New Year’s resolutions are total BS. You don’t need a list to achieve your life’s goals and it certainly doesn’t have to be a list you create on a certain date and have 365 days to complete. Instead, focus on making daily changes that will make you happier and make it a living document that’s subject to change as you see fit. Consider everything that you’ve accomplished this year, and contemplate how you can keep up the good work.
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve made it this far, and you have so much more good things coming your way in the new year. In the end, you don’t need a resolutions list to make that point true or make yourself feel worthy of everything you deserve right now, at this moment in time. You’ve already got everything you truly need.