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Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions: Improving Without Restrictions

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

I recently learned something interesting about myself: if I am too strict with a goal, I’m less likely to complete it. Time limits create a sense of impending doom for me, a feeling that if I don’t complete a task before the deadline, I will fail and face dire consequences.

I’m not sure if the public education system instilled that fear in me, or if I was born with it. All I know is that if I don’t give myself enough time to do something, I psych myself out so much that I actually do run out of time.

Now, with some things, this can come in handy. Proofreading essays in the dark of night after consuming nothing but Cheez-Its and lukewarm tap water builds character (by all means, this is a joke, please do not do this). The stress motivates me to write and think faster. It also works with chores, or things I’m doing for the benefit of others.

For some reason though, it just doesn’t apply to things I do for myself. Due to this, I’ve decided that I won’t make a New Year’s resolution this year.

In 2023, I didn’t have a resolution because I accidentally forgot to make one. However, watching everyone else stress about not living up to their goals made me oddly thankful that I didn’t. I felt content with the progress I was making on my own time. Now, in 2024, I can say that it did work! I was more inclined to follow through with my goals because I didn’t associate them with any consequences or guilt.

I will say, the goals I set throughout the year aren’t all complete. In fact, I don’t think any of them are, but that’s a good thing. See, humans are built to grow forever. While it may not feel like it, we are growing every single day that we breathe, mentally and physically. Setting a goal that has an end date—albeit a short one—is counter-productive to this process. It implies that after the year is over, our lives will be fixed and perfect. It’s just not realistic.

I also think that waiting for a specific day to begin a goal isn’t productive. In my experience, to properly create a healthy habit, it needs to start the minute you think of it. Waiting for a time to start only allows you to put it off if other things come up, like work or school.

Alternatively, creating intermittent goals throughout the year was easier for me. It relieves a lot of the pressure that surrounds entering a new year.

Last of all, time is relative! A new year just means that the calendar is about to change. There is so much duress out there to finish your goals. If your resolution from January 2023 isn’t done yet, or you gave up on it halfway, that’s fine! Dropping old goals just makes room for new ones that could help you more than the previous could.

Elisabeth is a writer for Her Campus at uOttawa. She publishes articles about lifestyle, entertainment, and her own personal experiences. Aside from Her Campus, Elisabeth is a first-year student working to earn an Honours BA in Communications. She wishes to use her degree in a corporate setting as a marketing specialist. In her personal time, Elisabeth is very passionate about music, fashion, visual art and literature. Her friends would describe her as talkative, compassionate, and always looking for fun. She is also passively studying plant growth, in hopes to become a good house-plant mother.