New Year’s is a magical time filled with hope, and people all over the world coming together to celebrate. A lot of people use this time to inspire themselves to make improvements to their lives, and reach goals that they’ve always wanted to achieve with New Year’s resolutions. However, I believe that the power of New Year’s resolutions can also be the downfall of our goals. In this post, I will highlight what I believe are the common problems with New Year’s resolutions, and some tips to help you achieve those goals that you set your sights on.
Problems & Tips
1) Too much for no good reason
People get caught up in the energy and trends of the New Year, and create resolutions that don’t make sense for their current living conditions. Because of this, it is extremely easy for people to get frustrated that things are not going the way they planned. For instance, if you want to do a “New Year, new you” makeover, the operation may not get off the ground if you’re already struggling to make ends meet.
· TIP #1: Choose resolutions that make sense for your life.
A resolution should be something that will benefit YOU. You don’t have to follow trends – change your diet, start a specific workout regiment, change you hair or wardrobe – if it’s not true to you. Also, you don’t have to force the change if the timing isn’t right; problems happen and it’s okay to wait until you can give the resolution your 100% effort.
2) Too much all at once
A lot of people get really excited about the New Year, and create a huge laundry list of things that they’re going to change. While it’s definitely good to have goals, you actually lower your chances of succeeding in any of those goals by trying to change so much at once. Think of it like multitasking. When you’re trying to take on so many new things at once, it can be extremely stressful. (Science Behind Multitasking: https://wpcurve.com/science-behind-multitasking/)
· TIP #2: Try one resolution at a time.
As mentioned above, multitasking can severely impact our resolution success. By taking our resolutions one at a time, we can delegate the necessary focus to fully carry out that resolution, and not worry about forgetting all of the other changes we were planning.
3) Too much, too fast
If the change you’re trying to make is on the scale of switching your whole diet or workout schedule to “be healthy” – while it may seem simple to accomplish in theory – it can take much longer to adjust than anticipated. It takes humans at least 21 days to create even a small habit like drinking a glass of water with breakfast. () From this, it is easy to see how all of these huge life changes would crash and burn rather quickly, especially when happening all at once. (Evidence About Habits: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/02/how-long-it-takes-to-form-a-new-habit/, https://jamesclear.com/new-habit)
· TIP #3: Start small, then work up to bigger resolutions.
Like I said previously, it takes a long time to even make a small change in our lifestyles. Because of this, it is really easy to give up when it feels like thing’s aren’t sticking. By starting small, you have a better chance of seeing positive results faster, giving you the confidence to tackle bigger and bigger resolutions.
4) “Oops, I forgot" or “Ugh, maybe tomorrow”
We lead very busy lives, so it is easy to forget things that aren’t in our normal routine, or give up because we’re just too tired to “put in the effort”. With so many other stresses and things to remember in our lives, a lot of things can be lost in the chaos.
· TIP #4: Write down your resolutions and/or have someone keep you accountable.
Sometimes all we need is a little help from our friends. Find a resolution buddy to help you reach your new goal, or try writing out your resolution with a plan and timeline to help you break down the challenge.
5) “Nothing’s happening!”
One of the most common problems is giving up before you see results. We seem to think that our new workout plan isn’t working because we haven’t lost 20 pounds in a week. However, just because results aren’t visible, it doesn’t mean that things aren’t working under the surface.
· TIP #5: Give yourself time to see results.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is good health. Instead of throwing in the towel, find a way to track progress to give yourself hope that you aren’t stuck. You might not see very much change right away, but you will definitely see progress in the long run.
Once we label ourselves as a “failure”, it can be almost impossible to continue trying to reach our goals. The common issue is that once we believe we failed at a resolution, we think our chance is over. Additionally, it feels like if we don’t finish our resolution by the first few weeks of January, our chance is also over. This leads to even worse mental health, and beliefs that we are a failure of a human being.
· TIP #6: You are not your resolutions, and YOU CAN TRY AGAIN!
Resolutions are meant to be inspirational goals for you to reach. There is no rule saying that you only get one chance to reach your goal or complete your resolution. If you do not reach them in the time you wanted, maybe the timeline wasn’t appropriate or life just got in the way. You have the WHOLE YEAR to reach that goal, and even if you don’t get it by the end of the year, you also have next year. As long as you are alive, you can get up and try again.
1) Choose resolutions that benefit you
2) Try one at a time
3) Start small and work your way up
4) Write resolutions down and/or have someone keep you accountable
5) Give yourself time to see results
6) You can try again even if you “fail”
Closing & Personal Note
I personally do not believe in doing resolutions because I subscribe to the idea that if you want to make a change in your life desperately enough then you have the power to do it at any time during the year. However, I still appreciate what the meaning of New Year’s does for others. I wanted to do a post about resolutions because I have seen so much hurt come out of the excitement, especially around the point of failure that I discussed. I hope you find these tips reassuring, if not helpful. If you have any questions or want to chat more about New Year’s resolutions, feel free to contact me through the HeWe Facebook page.
On another note, I would really appreciate some input on these blog posts. If you read them, please let me know your thoughts about them and how I might be able to make them better. I'm also always looking for more blog post topics, and I would love to write about things that people want to read.
Best of luck with tackling your resolutions!
- Taryn, VP Mental Wellness