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Opinion: New Year’s resolutions are bad: Here’s why

Opinion: New Year’s resolutions are bad: Here’s why


Making New Year’s resolutions is a crazy tradition that is never second guessed, but maybe it’s time to start.

Every year when I pass a park or gym during the first week of January, they are always jam packed. On social media, people post pictures of their planners and different challenges they are going to attempt to complete by the end of the year.

But as the month goes on, I see the Instagram posts and the gym capacity start to dwindle.

Quick history lesson: The ancient Babylonians were the first people recorded to hold a celebration in honor of the new year and commemorate it with resolutions, according to The Babylonians made promises to their gods during a festival known as Akitu. If the promises were kept, the gods would bestow their favor on them for the upcoming year. 

Flash forward 4,000 years, and people all over the world are still setting up New Year’s resolutions, such as being healthier, learning new tasks and the list goes on.

While it’s perfectly fine for people to have these goals, U.S. News said that by the second week of February, 80% of people break their resolutions. So why do people keep doing this if they know it never works?

Most people set these resolutions right after the holidays, in what U.S News calls, “holiday remorse.” Basically, they’re trying to remedy the lifestyle they developed within the holiday months.  

The problem with this mentality is that the human mind does not work this way. A person cannot expect to miraculously change when the ball drops and the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1.

It takes up to 254 days for a habit to form, according to the European Journal of Social Psychology. This is probably why most people end up dropping their resolutions by the beginning of February.

The goals that people set in their New Year’s resolutions are too broad and too unrealistic. People are constantly comparing themselves to the accomplishments of celebrities or even their peers. They often use this as motivation instead of focusing on their strengths and forming a plan that best fits them.

The constant comparisons people use when coming up with their resolutions is just setting them up for failure because they will try to go at a pace that is not their own.

When someone begins listing their New Year’s resolutions, they are often thinking of the person they will become once they reach their goals. People are constantly trying to change themselves into the more favorable version they have in their head. These goals have something to do with changing attributes people dislike about themselves.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve, but if someone gives up on their New Year’s resolution, it turns into a constant reminder of their failure.

This is the beginning of a cycle of self-loathing. People set up these resolutions to fix themselves. But when they fail at obtaining their goal, they bring themselves down and begin to compare themselves to the person they want to be.

They begin fighting with time by constantly chasing that perfect person in their head before the year ends and suddenly it is Jan. 1 all over again.

It is perfectly OK to not have a New Year’s resolution. Ambitious goals can be set any time of the year. People need to start focusing on the baby-steps needed to get there.

For example, if someone wants to develop healthier eating habits, they can start by eating at least one fruit and one vegetable every day. It is best to start small and aim to incorporate familiar produce into your everyday diet. You could try an apple for breakfast or some baby carrots as a late-night snack.

If someone wants to get better grades, they can dedicate one hour every couple of days to taking notes or checking up on assignments. College students can even download certain apps like the Blackboard app on their phone so they can see their assignments when they want to take a break from watching Netflix.

 If people chose to focus on themselves in the present and learned to appreciate who they are in the moment, they would realize they can use what they already have to their advantage and reach their goals with patience and time. 

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