Creating resolutions is a staple tradition to ring in the new year. It’s a time when everything seems possible, like all of your past inhibitors will melt away when the clock strikes twelve. Nothing seals the deal like posting these ambitions in a clever social media caption.
But are New Year’s resolutions actually a good way to keep goals?
Some of the most common resolutions for 2020 were to travel more, lose weight and to improve financial stability in the new year. The lockdown due to COVID-19 in March of last year stopped many of these goals in their tracks. Suddenly, there was nowhere to travel, binge eating passed the time and online shopping became its own form of coping.
Though these events were out of everyone’s control, it begs the question of whether the future is too uncertain to be making unrealistic goals for ourselves.
Even when the world is not in the middle of a pandemic, New Year’s resolutions are a rare thing to maintain.
Studies conducted by UAB Medicine found that less than 8% of people actually achieve the goals they set for themselves for the new year. If these targets are not met time and time again, why do people still continue to force the idea?
For some people, the idea of change is just too daunting to take on in the middle of the year. For others, these goals are simply forgotten until it later comes up how they were not met. Either way, the guilt of not accomplishing what you set a whole year to do hits like a truck come December.
The simple solution to avoiding this end-of-the-year disappointment? Limit the New Year’s resolutions.
People are drawn to setting challenges for themselves that aren’t realistic to achieve. These high ideals are especially unattainable when limited by a global pandemic. After a year of constant uncertainty, it would be cruel to put high expectations of ourselves on top of it all. The best thing to do in 2021 is to limit potential discouragement.
This doesn’t mean that the drive to better ourselves in the new year should stop entirely. If you do feel the need to make some type of change in your life, there are ways to do so without vague and intimidating end results.
Small steps and improvements that can be taken to improve your overall well-being should be of the utmost importance, especially this year. Start by taking the time to identify what it is in your life that you would want to improve. Is it an overwhelming goal? That’s okay. Break it down into small, attainable victories that will make you feel accomplished without the fear of failure.
If you come to the realization that learning from home would have been a lot easier with a more efficient space, you may set an overall goal to become more organized. This can be broken into a starting step as small as reminding yourself to put your note taking pen back in a place that you will remember. You will get into a habit of doing this each time and you can start doing it with other things as well: your notebooks, then highlighters, then textbooks. Soon, you’ll have completed several attainable steps to becoming more organized.
Much more than concrete ideals, mental goals should be the highest priority this year. If you forgo a New Year’s resolution entirely for 2021, take the opportunity to practice positive affirmations and encouragements to yourself. With the turmoil of the last year, it would be more beneficial to your mental and emotional wellness to practice positive self-talk in preparation for, and throughout, the new year.
Overall, New Year’s resolutions are not a necessity. Changes to our lives do not have to be made on a grand, public scale for them to matter. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that life can change in a moment and those goals that we once thought to be the end-all-be-all of our years shouldn’t be anything remotely close. The success of your year shouldn’t be determined by reaching one implausible goal. Rather, we should find fulfillment in the little victories that do more to make us better each day of the year.