How to stick to your New Year’s Resolution

By Percy Mohn

Elm Staff Writer

The new year, while typically beginning with fun parties and well-intentioned resolutions, often brings along undue stress as time passes. Many people start off the new year with a concrete goal in mind, such as joining a gym, eating healthier, quitting a bad habit such as smoking, or even just saving a little more money. The first day starts out great. The second day is great as well. Then the third day comes around and the goal becomes a little more daunting. By the end of the first week, many people begin to quit. The two-week marker is where many resolutions meet their end, leaving many feeling guilty and unaccomplished.

And thus, the cycle begins anew the next year, and the next year, and the next year.

It is easy to become discouraged from ever making New Year’s resolutions after years of failure. Many people even forego resolutions entirely. Why make a resolution if it will not even make it past the end of January?

The main reason resolutions are so hard to keep is that people set too high of expectations for themselves at the outset. For example, someone who wants to eat healthy will change their diet immediately, expecting immediate change. However, once a few days go by, they find it hard to adjust to their new diet and go back to their old unhealthy habits.

This is an easy problem to solve, however. Instead of forcing a new habit completely, work up to it gradually. Using the previous example of eating healthier, changing one thing about your plate at first will make changing your eating habits easier rather than eliminating all unhealthy food at once. Instead of soda, drink water. Instead of fries, try rice or a different form of potatoes. Getting used to change little by little is a lot less daunting than a sudden change in routine.

Little goals are much easier to complete than those on a grander scale as well. Instead of telling yourself, “I’m going to work out every day,” try “I’m going to work out a little bit more than last year.” Instead of “I will quit procrastinating immediately,” try “I will write down all my homework in a planner.” Forcing big goals on yourself from the outset is the easiest way to become discouraged.

Another problem people face with New Year’s resolutions is the fact that they put so much pressure on the fact that it is a new year. According to and Psychology Today, the hype of the new year makes it nearly impossible to complete one’s New Year’s resolutions since it is simply an excuse to better oneself. Humans do not possess the willpower to better themselves under such conditions. It is likely that if someone is making a resolution simply because it is New Year’s, they are probably not serious about bettering themselves.

The solution: no New Year’s resolutions! Yes, you read me right. The pressure and hype of New Year’s is probably going to become too overwhelming and scare you away from your goal, or you were never serious about your goal in the first place. Make a resolution, but do not use the new year as an excuse. Instead, make a mid-October resolution or a beginning of summer resolution. You will likely be more motivated without the pressure of New Year’s.

So, if you find yourself failing to keep up your New Year’s resolutions, try reducing them to be more manageable and do not feel guilty if you cannot keep up. Everyone fails their New Year’s resolutions at some point, so do not compare yourself to others. You might just find your goals are not as unattainable as you originally thought, as long as you are willing to put in the work.

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