The Honest Truth About New Year's Resolutions

For as long as I can remember, there has been so much hype around New Year’s resolutions. Whether the year was successful or challenging, I understood January 1st to be a chance to reinvent yourself or make the change you've been waiting for. I admire this concept because it encourages us to not dwell on our shortcomings of the previous year. Through the ups and downs of life, some years are just better than others. Resolutions allow us to hit the reset button and take back control of our new year. By making resolutions, we are manifesting what we want going forward and holding ourselves a little bit more accountable than we do the rest of the year. Making new year's resolutions is simple, right? So then why is there this big universal joke about them only lasting a month?

I’ll admit, I've been there. In the past, I have made the less than original, yet still admirable, resolution to work out and "get fit" in the new year. For the first few weeks I was committed, eating healthy and working out daily. However, as life got busier, it became difficult to stay motivated because the image of who I wanted to be in the new year didn't seem to match my results. This is the problem with most resolutions: They fail to outline specific goals. While getting fit by maybe the following December would be a realistic resolution, there was no way I could stick to it because results (or at least, physical ones) don't come that quickly, leaving me feeling very unaccomplished. In reality, my goal was almost impossible to achieve in one month alone. This was the year that I learned how to master new year’s resolutions. I realized that to stay committed, there needs to be an aspect of reward. Positive reinforcements, even small ones, can keep you inspired and determined to keep after your goals all year long.Image by Tero Vesalainen from Pixabay

I decided to test this theory the next year. In January, I declared that it was my resolution to go for a morning walk once a week. At the end of the month, I found that I had stuck to this resolution because I wanted to achieve that goal. Going into February, I raised the bar a little bit, going for one morning walk and one morning run a week. By the end of two months, I had achieved this goal as well. I found that as the months went on, I was getting closer and closer to achieving my original new year’s resolution of staying active without ever feeling unmotivated or discouraged by the size of the task. Instead of looking for the results of 12 months of working out by the end of January, I was setting smaller goals, and the feeling of accomplishment when I reached those goals made it easier to set more. With this realization, new year’s resolutions have become fun and exciting rather than embarrassing and pointless. I have been a big advocate of this idea to my friends and family, and while the concept is simple, they all agree that it has been extremely effective. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


For inspiration, I explained this idea to fellow students and asked them what their New Year’s resolution would be. Here were a few of the responses: 


“Pay it forward to someone in need once every month, starting in January. By December, I will have paid it forward 12 times.”


“To maintain a decent savings account, I will put 20% of every paycheque into my savings. I will increase this percentage to 60% by December.” 


“Every month, I want to decrease my screen time by one hour.” 


“I need to eat healthier, so every month I am going to eliminate a cheat meal from my regular diet.” 


“I am addicted to Netflix. To remedy that, I'll read at least an hour a week, and increase my time goal every couple of months.” 


We all deserve to start off the new year with goals that will leave us feeling accomplished and proud of our small victories, rather than setting ourselves up for failure! ​​I hope this idea leaves you feeling motivated and inspired to make your 2020 new year’s resolutions in the next few weeks. I am here to tell you, you've got this!