Let’s be realistic about New Year’s Resolutions

by: Grace Schweitzer

Editor’s note: Grace Schweitzer is a psychology junior and opinion columnist for Mustang News. The views expressed in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

We all like to begin the new year with new mindsets and goals for the year to come. With each new year comes new opportunities and experiences, but are we putting too much faith in these resolutions that begin January 1st? Yes, we all want to have goals that are obtained each year, but by making them New Year’s resolutions I believe we are setting ourselves up for failure. 

Life and success are driven by goals, mindsets, and hard work that get us to our goals. Each birthday, start of a new school year, and new year we create a list (whether mental or written out) of the things we desire to achieve in the coming 52 weeks. However, by designating the new year as the start date for our aspirations, we might just be setting ourselves up to throw these goals in the trash come February. New Year’s resolutions should not have the weight that we give them, at least not most of them. 

I used to think that New Year’s resolutions were a requirement for each new year of life, like the new year could not truly begin until you find a couple of goals you mostly want to achieve by the end of the year. So each year a very similar set of goals were set each year only to be pursued for a couple of months, making these forced, put off goals unrealistic and not entirely beneficial. 

Determination and the desire to achieve should not be put off until the new year begins; if we wait for something we want then we are establishing a pattern of waiting or putting off most goals we ever set. There are many different ways to approach the idea of new years resolutions – some of which I will share with you – that are more realistic than just picking some goals and expecting to achieve before the clock strikes midnight marking the start of another year. Too much pressure, or rather expectations, are placed on both ourselves and our list of goals at the beginning of the new year. 

With the start of a new year of life, we love to set new intentions for the year to come. Now, what if we took the idea of intentions and ran with it, rather than converting our intentions into written out goals? Intentions can be as simple as one word, or as thought out as a motto for the year. These words or mottos give direction to the next year but don’t come with the same pressures of set resolutions and goals that most set. Patience. Open-mindedness. Self Love. These are just some examples of words that can set the trend of a new year. 

This idea also links to the concept of using mindsets rather than goals for a new year’s resolution. When we set goals, we often expect ourselves to achieve them and when not achieved a sense of disappointment quickly follows. However, with mindsets and intentions being used there is more room to wiggle, to mess up, and give more opportunity to explore other goals that you might not have thought of before the calendar changed to the new year. 

Setting goals is what helps keep many of us on a track to our success as well as help create a more visible path towards your “end goal” like graduation, grad school, or a certain career/internship. So, goals are needed in everyday life, but if we have these goals yet push them off then are we really determined to achieve them? 

Let’s take the most common new year resolution of working out as an example. If you want your 2023 goal to work out and take care of bodily health that’s great in theory but it also means that you’re waiting until the clock strikes midnight of January 1st to really work towards what you want to achieve. This is why we see so many crowded gyms for the first month of the year but come the end of February, the only people you see weekly are the “regulars”. By waiting to work towards these goals until a new year, we are setting ourselves up to fail before we even begin. 

New year’s resolutions give us an opportunity to grow in areas that we feel need more nurturing and to explore passions we once had yet have lost over time. And, as people we need goals to help give us direction but oftentimes new year’s resolutions are unrealistically planned. How we expect the year to unravel almost never happens, meaning some goals we set at the beginning of the year are no longer attainable or serve purpose in our greater desires. 

So for those who are big believers in New Year’s resolutions, make sure the goals you set are flexible ones or that you are comfortable with not having crossed them off when 2024 rolls around. Try intentions, word(s)-of-the-year, mottos, and other ways to set a vibe for 2023 and start January, and the winter quarter, off on a positive note.

How to make your New Year’s resolutions happen

by: Eden Rose-Baker

Editor’s note: Eden-Rose Baker is a journalism junior and opinion columnist for Mustang News. The views expressed in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

80% of Americans report giving up on their New Year’s resolutions well before February 1st. This does not mean that creating change and setting goals is hopeless; it just indicates that people may be taking the wrong approach to do so.

I personally enjoy making New Year’s resolutions because I feel like they challenge me to be a better version of myself. Oftentimes, people give up on their resolutions or have become anti-resolution altogether because they do not follow through with them. Here are the methods I have been using to follow through with my resolutions:

One thing that achieving resolutions requires is patience. A resolution is a habit, and it takes people, on average, 66 days to create a habit. By giving up on a habit in 30 days or less, Americans are failing to give themself the chance to achieve their goals.

We need to learn how to give ourselves grace. If your New Year’s resolution is not already a habit, it is not a part of your routine, so you might not always remember to do it. For example, if you forget to go to the gym one day, and your resolution is to work out every day, it does not mean that you have failed and that you should give up. It just means that it is not a habit yet and that you should go the next day so that you can commit to making it a habit.

Another reason why New Year’s resolutions tend not to work is that people tend not to believe in themselves.  Out of all the thoughts people experience on a daily basis, 80% of them are negative. This means that when thinking of a resolution, people are more likely to think of reasons why they should not or cannot achieve their goal rather than reasons they should. This mental block stops people from being productive because believing in yourself is an effective motivator for productivity.

Last year, I personally did not believe in myself and succumbed to those negative thought patterns. This year, I had the resolution of being more confident and was able to fix that.

If negative self-talk is so prevalent, you might wonder how you can fix it. You can start believing in yourself by thinking about things that you are good at, positive aspects about yourself or practicing gratitude for what you already have. This helps enhance self-assurance and encourages you to believe in yourself and your goals. Actively practicing gratitude and realizing what is good about me has helped improve my self esteem, confidence level and enabled me to advocate for what I want. Because of this, I am now able to wake up daily feeling excited and refreshed.

New Year’s resolutions often seem large and daunting, but taking them one step at a time can help set them into action. For example, if you usually don’t cook, but your goal is to start cooking, you can start by cooking yourself one or two meals a week and then work up to cooking regularly. By starting small, a goal isn’t as stressful because you aren’t trying to completely change yourself overnight. You are giving your goals the opportunity to grow on you and become a natural part of your routine rather than seeing them as something that you have to do.

Resolutions also do not need to be something that you need to do by yourself. If you talk to a friend or family member about your goals, they can help encourage you to achieve them. They might want to achieve this goal themselves, and you can help hold each other accountable for following through with them. I’ve found that I am more likely to follow through with a commitment when other people are relying on me, and that could be helpful in the case of New Year’s resolutions.