Stop making New Year’s resolutions

You’re probably not doing them right anyway

Salsabeel Salem, Contributing Writer

Working out in the gym is great in theory, but terrible in execution. I found myself contemplating this dilemma on Jan. 2, as the words “2023 Resolutions” stapled themselves to the top of my Google document. “What do I want to change this year?” I pondered. Do I eat healthier and read more books? Sure—sounds easy enough. I typed up goals two and three as a hovering voice decided to chime in. “You need to be more fun. Learn how to have a work-life balance,” my sister said, turning my watermelon-themed Macbook towards her to add items four through six. Thirty minutes later, 15 goals enumerated my list. 

However, it’s already February. I have not read a single book. Wyant Athletic and Wellness Center and Veale Recreation Center have been rather neglected. And I don’t know how much “more fun” I’ve actually become.

Like most hopeful Americans, I failed to make progress toward my New Year’s resolutions. Lucky and unlucky for me, I am in the majority. A staggering 80% of people do not achieve their resolution goals, which makes me think I don’t need them and neither do you.

As a means of “starting off on the right foot” and “getting things right,” people rush to make resolutions as soon as the clock strikes midnight. But what about the first day of January makes someone more likely to change than any other day of the year? What’s so special about those 24 hours? Nothing. After all, Jan 1. is like any other day, but it just so happens to indicate a new calendar year. However, people tend to think that because it indicates a new calendar year, it is somehow “different.” They might say, “I did not go to the gym at all last year. But next year, I will go five times a week.” Odds are, if someone was not willing to go to the gym in the 365 days preceding January first, they probably won’t become a gym rat in the days immediately following the New Year.

Oftentimes, people think they can completely alter one or many aspects of their life overnight. But that’s just not true. One’s morals, beliefs and behaviors rarely change on a day-to-day basis. Thus, how they spend their time will not drastically change either. If someone typically wakes up at noon and stays up until four in the morning every day, it would be unrealistic for them to expect to get up at six and be in bed by eight starting in 2023. This routine would take time to ease into, and there needs to be some motivating factor that forces them to seriously consider why they want to change this aspect of their life. And if the goal is truly important to them, they won’t wait until some arbitrary date on the calendar rolls around to get going. They will start tomorrow.

One of the main issues I had with my New Year’s Resolutions is that they were too general. How am I supposed to measure “eat healthier?” Healthier relative to what? Goals need to be quantifiable, realistic and focused for them to be achievable. And oftentimes, they require multiple steps to be fully realized. Many New Year’s resolutions lack the structure and specificity to meet these criteria. This makes it hard for one to track their progress throughout the year, especially if they have many goals they want to achieve. 

If you’re like me and you made 15 or so resolutions, you probably won’t have time to achieve all of them. Because we are all busy college students, choosing one or two goals to focus on allows you to devote the energy needed to realize them without drastically altering your day-to-day life. This is important because temptations are everywhere, and they can be costly. If someone is trying to boost their GPA to a 4.0, work out six times a week, eat 1,500 calories of strictly protein and carbs, meet the love of their life, spend more time with family and friends and travel the globe by December, they will get burnt out. All of a sudden chicken and rice doesn’t sound as appealing as a burrito from Chipotle with a side of Mitchell’s ice cream. Temptations like this contribute to the high failure rate resolutions are infamous for, derailing long-term goals. Prioritizing the goals that matter the most will help one avoid temptations and will yield a higher chance at success.

Though the idea of a “new year-new me” sounds enticing, reality makes this notion unrealistic and kind of overrated. Hate something about your life? That’s great. Now, do something about it. It takes six weeks to break a bad habit, and eight weeks to build a good one. Don’t wait until the first day of January. Life is too short to let artificial time markers dictate when we should carpe diem. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to “be more fun” on the whim of a Tuesday evening, potentially on March 14, 2023? I’m looking forward to it.