If you are one of the countless people who made a New Year’s resolution on January 1st, odds are you’ve probably given up on them already. If you haven’t, good for you. However, the likelihood that your resolution will remain in your life forever is almost zero.
A study at the University of Scranton monitored a pool of 200 subjects who had made concrete New Year’s Resolutions over a 2-year period. The researchers found that 23% of their subjects had failed to keep their resolutions after just one week. However, by the end of the 2-year trial, 81% of participants had forgotten all about their January 1st vows. This makes it pretty clear that New Year’s resolutions aren’t worth the effort.
The reality is, resolutions are overrated. By deciding that on this one date we are going to change our lives, we set ourselves up for failure. The reality is, the best time to make changes is when we feel totally ready, not because it’s a certain date on the calendar. By forcing ourselves to make life changes because of some tradition, we lose the real reason why personal growth is so important. It becomes less genuine and less achievable as a result.
By now, we have established that New Year’s Resolutions are not the way to go. However, 2022 in particular is the wrong year to make resolutions. The last 2 years have been filled with such uncertainty and stress that the last thing we need right now is pressure to change ourselves. The pandemic, social unrest, several natural disasters, political turmoil, and countless other issues have turned society upside down. The last thing we should be forcing on ourselves is a strict agenda of rules. This is a time to be gentle with ourselves and focus on taking care of ourselves.
Instead, I propose that we change the vocabulary. One option that is less harsh and more productive is the concept of setting intentions rather than resolutions. The term intention implies a much more gentle path towards bettering oneself, rather than the hardcore commitment of a resolution. By setting intentions, we can focus more on goals than rules.
At the end of the day, the reason behind setting resolutions is to face a new year with a different mindet. However, in the wake of so much distress, it’s more important to focus on making it through such a challenging time and doing whatever we need to feel ok. This is a time for surviving a world-wide pandemic, not pushing ourselves unecessarily.