Resolutions: Is It Time?

January 15, 2019

Every year, many people in the nation partake in the annual custom of making New Year’s resolutions. These can include, but are not limited to, going to the gym, going on a diet or travel. Although it may seem like a light-hearted tradition, there are many controversies surrounding resolutions. Some see it as a joyous holiday tradition, while others find it an unproductive waste of time.

The Time is Now

Every year I make New Year’s resolutions. Then, I either forget all about it, or I make a feeble attempt that peters out by the end of January. I’m sure most of the people reading this are familiar with this seasonal pattern. According to U.S. News, only 20 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions succeed. This statistic leads many people to believe that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time.

But don’t lose hope! There are still benefits to making them, even if you don’t succeed. By figuring out what we are doing wrong, we can fix our mistakes.

One of the biggest mistakes in making a resolution is setting an unrealistic goal. People whose resolutions fail may also be making their goals too broad. In either case, people will not accomplish their goals without putting effort towards them first. People assume that simply setting a goal is good enough and do not put any more effort into achieving their resolution.

There is an obvious fallacy to this way of thinking. If you plant a seed but do not water it or provide optimal sunlight, how can you expect it to grow? This applies to making resolutions too. Without setting specific goals to follow in order to achieve your resolution, it’s easy for people to push off what they want to accomplish, sometimes procrastinating until next New Year’s.

“Procrastination is one of the number one reasons resolutions fail,” Tim Pychl, psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, said in an article by Popular Science.

Yes, procrastination is an epidemic common across the nation. Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate as much as the next person. Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but we all know that it’s better that we don’t. With either of these mistakes, failure is inevitable, leading to the incorrect conclusion that resolutions do not work.

Fear not, we can fix our mistakes together. If you want to accomplish your resolutions, you have to make sure you know everything about whatever it is you want to achieve, whether it is researching weight loss programs or setting and sticking to a budget

According to the Miami Herald, making specific resolutions increases your chances of achieving them. If you set a goal to go to the gym more often, consider making the goal more explicit, such as going to the gym twice a week for three months. This encourages you to make a calendar, set reminders and keep up with your progress which will lead to success.

A key component to success is your attitude. According to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA), being optimistic increases confidence and energy. Positive people are more successful because of their positive attitude. Having a positive attitude towards your resolutions can increase your success.

Another helpful component to resolution-making is getting your friends involved. According to John Norcross in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), it is beneficial to tell your friends about your resolution. “Once you get into January, the willpower begins to slip and that’s when we start counting on other people,” Norcross said. Friends will help you stay committed to your goals, and you might even inspire them to join you.

When making a resolution, there are some important things to remember that will help your resolution be a success.

Make sure you identify what you want to achieve. Make it detailed and do not leave any loopholes.

Research how what you want to do might affect you and how long it will take to achieve what you want. If you want to grow out your hair, research how long that will take. If you want less acne, find out the best medicine to use and how much it will cost.

The New Year’s season is the best time to achieve your goals. They aren’t pointless because they can be beneficial, even if you fail. This year, try to get your friends involved with your resolutions and have fun with it. Start up your fireplaces, make some hot chocolate and make your resolutions a reality!

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It’s Time to Stop

New Year’s for many signifies a fresh start. Maybe for you it’s a time you like to set a few goals for the new year. Maybe like 37 percent of Americans, according to a survey done by YouGov, you want to eat healthier or save some money. And because the new year is a time for unbridled optimism, maybe you set these goals a little too high off of a whiff of the fresh wind of the new year. Or maybe you feel obligated to make them and rush through making them without thinking through the specific steps to meet those goals.

New Year’s resolutions have become a worthless cliché. They’re something two-thirds of Americans say they’re setting, but in reality, according to Business Insider, 80 percent of those people either give up or forget about them by February. Even past that, only eight percent actually get to a place where they feel like they’ve accomplished their goal. Setting yourself up for failure is never a good thing, especially when that failure has the opportunity to set a tone for the rest of the year.

The shoot-for-the-stars and land-on-the-moon argument for why making New Year’s resolutions isn’t detrimental is easily argued against, as the American Psychological Association (APA) says that failing resolutions in the first three months may increase anxiety. And failing early doesn’t just affect the beginning of the year. Reminders of failed resolutions can increase hopelessness in the fall and winter months, as the arbitrary time for goal-setting re-approaches.

A major cornerstone of many schools’ educations is to not set students up for failure, but rather to put them in a position for success. If you’d prepare thoroughly for an assessment in school, then why would you rush through something used as a self-assessment? If you feel the need to make New Year’s resolutions, then they have to be well-thought-out goals that target a specific sector of your life that you view as an issue or something that could be improved.

It can also help to set goals in increments. Set little check-ins for yourself throughout the year, so instead of trying to clear a 50-foot wall in one leap, space out a few shorter hurdles that get taller and taller. It’s much easier to get back up from stumbling over a small hurdle than it is to get back up after running face-first into a giant wall.

The most important piece about making resolutions is to get back up. It’s one of many reasons that keeping a resolution set at the same time as two hundred and seventeen million other Americans is so difficult. When we’re failing, but the people around us are also failing, it makes us much more complacent with that failure and gives us a way to rationalize giving up. And while failure is okay and a part of human life, the goal is to not fail, but rather to improve, which is going to require some getting back up somewhere along the way.

New Year’s resolutions are hardly taken seriously anymore. They’ve become a staple for standups and sitcoms like “The Office,” because to most of America, they’ve become a joke. If you’re serious about self-improvement, you shouldn’t wait until the very end of the year to set yourself unachievable goals just because everybody else does it. Anyone can set a goal for themselves any day of the week, month or year. If you see a change that can be made in your life, why wait until Jan. 1 to try to make it?

Self-improvement and care is something we should all strive toward. There is always room to grow, but it’s important that the space is filled effectively and not just with empty words and promises. When those resolutions aren’t taken seriously anymore by the person that set them, that’s when they become detrimental to that person’s well being.

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