OPINION: The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions

With the New Year upon us, it marks the year we have all been waiting for. An almost four-year mile-stone since COVID hit and changed our world. It’s the year we thought would never come, seeming impossibly far away, especially during the global pandemic.

Welcome to 2024.

This year brings more substantial, life-changing events — high school seniors graduate, college seniors start new chapters, employees venture into fresh careers and some even leap to a new place. And, of course, with the start of every new year, there’s the traditional crafting of New Year’s goals, lists, and resolutions.

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But I wonder: Who really does New Year’s resolutions? Is it just a consistent practice, or do people feel pressured or influenced by others to participate and write them down without genuine follow-through?

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For me, I only started thinking about and actually “writing” New Year’s resolutions about three years ago in college. I never did them as a kid because, well, why would you? Most kids don’t have many goals, let alone know what a “resolution” is. 

However, this brings up the point that everyone has different self-goals and everyone is trying to work and improve different areas of themselves. There is no room for judgment here — everyone is trying to be their best self.

But when I think about New Year’s resolutions, what’s the point? Do people even follow through with what they write down? Or does doing the slightest part of this activity make them feel better that they have goals written down and even participated?

Last year, I wrote down my “goals,” yet again and I can’t say in my time participating in this activity that I have followed through with all of them. If anything, during and at the end of the year, I almost just feel guilty and worse about myself when I don’t meet all of my goals. It prompts me to question: why didn’t I achieve this?

Typically, when some people don’t reach a certain goal they push it to the next year, and the next, and the next. I, for one, am guilty of this. However, a noticeable pattern emerges — one marked by a lack of positive outcomes.

I think, in all honesty, many of us have missed the whole point of New Year’s resolutions. We’ve overlooked the brilliance and excitement that accompanies the arrival of a brand-new year — a blank page to be filled with vibrant possibilities, opportunities bursting at the seams, and a beautiful mix of positives and negatives that, together, shape ourselves and our life journey.

We are so concerned with putting down all of our goals and getting them out of our heads onto paper; it is almost like our brain tricks us and is like, “check” we’ve already worked towards completing this. When in reality, we are nowhere close to achieving this. Goals require effort, motivation, sacrifice, and commitment. They don’t just magically come true and phantom into existence. Instead, they demand ongoing construction and dedication.

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However, in the process, we end up making ourselves feel worse for not accomplishing every single goal — a natural and acceptable occurrence. Despite this, we can be hard on ourselves, and so we question why we haven’t completed every goal when we’ve only managed to achieve a few. We think to ourselves — how could you not achieve that in the whole year? You had so much time and you couldn’t and didn’t do everything you wanted to.

In my mind, New Year’s resolutions are great for many people but they almost give off the wrong message. If anything, I find that I am more productive and motivated when I have a regular daily to-do list than a long list of New Year’s resolutions. There is too much pressure around it and it causes us to put too much pressure on ourselves. 

Maybe we should just write fewer goals, but then again that can also make us feel lazy. On the other hand, if we establish an excessive number of goals and fail to accomplish all of them, it leads to disappointment and also hurts us.

I honestly don’t know if there is a way to win with New Year’s resolutions. However, I plan to do them on New Year’s Eve, this year….once again.