Why 2020 Made Me Rethink New Year's Resolutions

As we have moved on from 2020 and into 2021, I am sure lots of people will be setting some New Year’s Resolutions for themselves. Every year millions of people feel the pressure of the New Year to make changes in their lives, whether this be health goals or financial targets, it is easy to get sucked into the madness of improving your life in January.


According to Statista the most common New Year’s Resolutions are to improve fitness, lose weight, change our diets, save money and to take up a new hobby. However, many people do not achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, Forbes states that just 8% of people actually succeed in achieving their resolutions. Moreover, a shocking 80% of people give up on their resolutions by the second week of February according to U.S. News. Come the end of February most people have called it a day on their green smoothies and workout routines and are left feeling insecure about themselves and regretful of their goals.


Why we do not achieve these goals can vary, but it is often because we do not pick realistic resolutions. With goals of cutting sugar out of our diets, working out every day and losing a certain amount of pounds, it’s self-explanatory why many of us become overwhelmed and can’t keep them up for more than two months. Setting these crazy targets can actually do more harm than good as we become overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem when we do not meet our unreasonable expectations. The excess stress of trying to reach these goals then gets carried onto the following year in a cycle of failure, as we continually beat ourselves up as the year comes to a close.


According to The Independent, four common mistakes we make when making our resolutions are:

  1. They are “absolute statements” about our aims and then fail immediately because we cannot always do something or stick to our routine.
  2. They come from a place of negativity as people focus on what they would like to change about themselves. When we come from this self-deprecating place, we encourage negative emotions and thoughts
  3. They are too outcome-focused, rather than process-oriented. Our resolutions are frequently only concerned with the end goal, and not on how one is supposed to get to that point. We do not celebrate our milestones or allow ourselves to enjoy the process.
  4. They are too reliant on external forces in which they involve other people. This makes goals tricky to achieve, such as getting a promotion as this often relies on gratification from another person, which does not always happen.


It is not necessarily a bad thing to come up with goals and to have targets to aim towards as this can be hugely motivating and after the year we have had, people are looking for change. However, there are ways that we can reduce the pressure on ourselves and save us some pain in the future. After the year we have all had, I think it is clear that sometimes we simply cannot achieve the goals we set out for ourselves - and this is often not our fault. With gyms closing, jobs being lost and illness causing people to miss out on their 2020 resolutions, I think it is important to enter 2021 with a new perspective. I encourage everyone to be forgiving with themselves as we move forward. If you do not achieve one of your resolutions, don’t beat yourself up about it; be understanding with yourself, just as you would with someone else. Treat yourself as you would your friend, if they did not achieve one of their goals would you allow them to feel insecure and negative about themselves?


Set goals that are flexible and that allow for changes in both your personal life and the world around you. Clearly, our lives have changed over the past year and moving forward it is important to acknowledge that change can come at any moment for any reason. Allowing yourself room to breathe and to adjust your resolutions is important for success and for your own sanity. Reframe why you are setting your goals by creating them from a place of positivity. Instead of framing a goal as “I want to stop eating fast food”, perhaps frame it as “I want to eat more vegetables”. Coming from a positive place will be more motivating and does not encourage insecurity.


Finally, maybe try not creating resolutions at all, but perhaps intentions. The name 'resolutions' implies they have to come to fruition in a certain way. By changing it to 'intentions', or a similar word, we allow ourselves room for adjustment, a different perspective and an easier transition. Or, if you are feeling really brave, maybe don’t set any at all this year and just take 2021 to be happy.