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.