Letter To The Editor

My New Year's resolution is to stop making New Year's resolutions

Before the year rolls in, people all around the world set goals and expectations for themselves with New Year’s being the starting date. I’m going to start getting fit on New Year’s Day, I’m going to start eating healthy on New Year’s Day, I’m going to be more mindful on New Year’s Day, I’m going to be more organized on New Year’s Day, I’m going to work harder starting on New Year’s Day.

Each year, we see a similar trend of people flocking to the gym right as January 1 rolls around—people with goals and aspirations. It’s short-lived, however, because just a month later, the amount of people that are still there is around the same as it was before the year started.

It has almost become a running joke at this point that people go for gold in their New Year’s resolutions and slowly falter in their efforts only after a couple weeks. This trend has become almost toxic because setting goals for the New Year’s and falling short because of your own volition leads the negative mindset that you are unable to accomplish anything for yourself. Even if you don’t believe it is affecting you, this negativity will subconsciously lead to bad results for the rest of the year, just as if you were to jinx yourself.

I think it’s time to change the way we think about New Year’s for good. We have been using it as our “starting point” for so long. Start this on New Year’s, start that on New Year’s. I believe this is the wrong way to go about it. This mindset gives you an amazing amount of motivation when you start, because we’ve only promised ourselves that we’d start on that date. The deeper problem here is that we have no deadline. We’d wake up early one day in January, and say I only said I’d start, never when I’d finish; I’ve got time, I’ll push it to tomorrow, then go back to sleep—myself included.

My idea? New Year’s conclusions. Set New Year’s Eve as your deadline, and start whenever you want. This will give you a concrete endpoint, and instead of efforts faltering, this will encourage more effort the closer you are to the deadline, if you are behind schedule. For example, instead of saying I want to lose weight starting on New Year’s Day, say that you want to lose weight by New Year’s Eve.

Then, based on whenever you start, you can formulate subgoals that lead up to your ultimate goal. For example, losing 20 pounds by the new year can be divided into losing approximately 1.5 pounds each month, which gives you confidence or motivation depending on your performance at each milestone.

The New Year’s resolution has been around since the late 1600s. Nowadays, almost all New Year’s resolutions bear no fruit. Maybe it’s time we finally spin the narrative, and make the new year work for us.