By Katie Bedard
Elm Staff Writer
Making a New Year’s resolution is a common tradition. It’s the chance to make a pledge that the upcoming year will be different than the last. However, a lot of people no longer bother with these plans, believing that resolutions are pointless. It’s not the idea itself that fails, but rather the way people go about it.
New Year’s resolutions are a pretty big deal. During the month of January at least. According to a study by a time management firm FranklinCovey, one third of resolutions don’t make it past the first month. The University of Scranton found that after the entire year was gone, only eight percent of the country actually succeeded in completing their goals.
“You’re making it your New Year’s goal because you keep failing at it,” said Tim Pychyl, a psychologist from Carleton University, in the article “Why Your Brain Makes New Year’s Resolutions Impossible to Keep” for the magazine Popular Science. “They make the intention now, but don’t do anything. And people love that. It’s like going to buy furniture and not having to pay anything till 2019.”
Part of how much people fail at their resolutions has to do with the type of goals people are making. Some of the most common resolutions for the New Year include trying to eat healthier, quit smoking, make better financial decisions, and even find the love of their life. A lot of these involve making major life changes and trying to break previous habits. They’re the top things that people feel like they want to change the most. The unfortunate part is that because of the drastic nature of said goal, it’s going to take more than just having a confident attitude to achieve.
“This doesn’t mean you can’t have big stretch goals. But trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you frustrated, or affect other areas of your life to the point that your resolution takes over your life,” Jen Miller in The New York Times said.
When I was twelve, my New Year’s resolution was to publish my first novel. While that’s not an impossible goal, it was certainly unrealistic for a kid. I made no plan to actually lay out a storyline, put in the extra time to write, or even consider self-publishing. I based my resolution on daydreams of being the next J.K. Rowling before I even hit high school, somehow expecting that the finished manuscript would just appear right on my lap. Over the years, I’ve learned to take more concrete actions to achieve my resolutions. Thinking about my goals, without doing anything, would only succeeded in disappointing me the next New Year.
In order for any goal to work, there has to be some sort of outline and specific expectation for how it’s going to happen. If someone wants to exercise more, they should consider how many times a week, how many hours, what type of exercises, if they need a gym membership, and other necessary details. They also have to be willing to actually go through with the goal. The most harmful thing to change is the mindset that one can “do it later.” That’s how people keep repeating the same resolutions each year.
There’s no reason why anyone should give up on New Year’s resolutions altogether. People just need to be both realistic and determined about the goals they’re making. There’s something major in everyone’s life that they want to change. Instead of putting that as the first goal on a list, people should work up to it with smaller goals that are easier to manage. This builds confidence and understanding into what needs to go into creating a happier lifestyle. Maybe this is the year of taking up a new hobby, reading more, or going out to eat less. In the end, there should be no reason why anyone couldn’t empower themselves to make change.