New Year's Resolutions: Are They Overrated?
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New Year's Resolutions: Are They Overrated?

We've all made them, and we've all broken them. So why do we do it the next year?

New Year's Resolutions: Are They Overrated?
Photo by Luo Lei on Unsplash

Ah New Year's Eve, one of the most magical nights of the year. You get together with your family and friends, (this year just family) ready to celebrate another 365 days with wonderful people. And as the ball drops, and the confetti and cider sparkles around you, and hugs go around the room, you can't help but reflect: how was the last year any different than the ones before it? Then you're on an internal spiral, finding that you are nowhere near your hopes and dreams that you haven't thought of in a year, and before you know it, you've made a resolution.

So why doesn't it last? Why do we find ourselves in March, sitting on our bedroom floor, unwilling to go to the gym and get our "dream bod" the way we did in January? Why do we decide at some point, it's just not worth it?

Well, if it makes you feel better, it has nothing to do with you. It's just human nature. Kaitlin Woolley from Cornell University and Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago published some research in 2017 which found that 55.2% of resolutions were health-related, and only 5.2% were socially related (spend time with family, have fun, etc.). The surprising part is that "only enjoyment predicted long-term persistence." Which makes sense I guess, since we do like having fun.

But that also means that having fun goes beyond what's important, what's necessary for our health and wellbeing. Does that mean we're never going to get our life together?

Well, no. If that was in human nature, we'd probably be extinct. However, it does mean the glamour and emotional appeal of getting your life together and making these big changes, well they require some pretty heavy change-making effort. And most of those changes aren't specific or realistic enough for us to incorporate long-term.

The real question we should be asking is: how do I figure out how to incorporate something into my life that I don't like, but I could probably use? Because if you REALLY wanted it, it would be there.

Well, turns out psychology's got an answer for that too. According to the American Psychological Association, there are some fairly simple tips to help your resolutions stick. One is that you've GOT to start small. Trust me, you cannot start going to the gym for an hour every day if you've never worked out before; it's gonna hurt ALL over. And, the point is to slowly acclimate this activity into your life, until one day it becomes like brushing your teeth: it's kind of lame, but certainly adds something flavorful to your daily life.

Another important one is that you have to talk about it. I know we all have that dream of someone seeing us two months later and saying, "Dude(ette), have you been working out?". And our response a flippant, "A little bit," with some dramatic flair because you've kept this a secret and now you've surprised everyone around you. Well, unfortunately not all our lives are like a Disney princess, and people are, thankfully, supportive of our endeavors. So, please talk to your parents, talk to your friends, talk to your siblings if you're truly desperate. They'll push you and motivate you, which you definitely need.

NYE Resolutions are essentially goals, which aren't overrated. The part that I don't particularly care for? Why it has to happen on New Year's Day in the first place. Just because our calendar says that January 1st is the start of a New Year, why do we need to let that dictate when we set and reach our goals? I say, mark your calendars with your achievements; your years begin when you have begun something great, not the other way around. Because that's probably how you'll remember it.

So no matter when you're reading this article, write down a resolution, and aim to achieve it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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