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Issue 68 / Do You Need To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions?

Do You Need To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions?

Jan 27, 2017

You’re fine just the way you are. Forget your New Year’s resolutions. 

The clock strikes midnight and infused in the celebrations, millions of people across the globe excitedly declare that with the start of a new year, they will focus on evolving into an even better version of themselves with their seemingly obligatory list of New Year’s resolutions.

Are New Year’s resolutions kept throughout the year?

This idea of a New Year’s resolution has become a culturally accepted norm and though not practiced by everyone, it still makes a significant impact. In Canada, approximately 81 per cent of the population admit to having made a resolution at some point in their life; in America, approximately 41 per cent of the population made one for 2017 while one third of the population generally does in the United Kingdom.

With success rates of maintaining or achieving the resolutions under 45 per cent, it appears as though New Year’s Eve resolutions are not as effective as we may hope. So what is it about a clock striking midnight on December 31st every year that makes so many think it’s the right time for change? Why on this day are we taught to declare a goal, to start fresh and make a list of aspirations?

Ditch your New Year's Resolutions
We focus so much on what we want to change. Photo Credit: http://w5coaching.com

 

Why do we set goals around the New Year?

The logical answer seems to be that it corresponds with calendar time. The first few days of a new year are a good opportunity to reflect on previous experiences and determine our plan for success and growth. The concept of resolutions is a hot topic of conversation with family, friends and even colleagues the first few days of the New Year and the heat can make many feel pressured to make commitments to change and/or improve.

Resolutions have become such common practice that they are even referenced in advertisements with companies designing marketing strategies to play on the most popular ones and increase revenue. The fitness industry, for example, sees its biggest earnings during the month of January due to weight loss/healthier living being one of the most popular resolutions. Not escaping social media platforms, Twitter and Instagram enthusiastically erupt with motivational quotes or resolution based posts making #nyeresolution a trending topic (and lots of sponsored ads for weight loss, life coaching etc. seem to magically appear in our feeds).

Ditch your New Year's Resolutions
Don’t wait for a specific date. Photo Credit: www.timeforyoufitness.com

 

Setting goals helps increase self-awareness.

Setting goals and wanting to improve and evolve are positive things; the purpose of this piece is by no means to discourage any of that but to raise awareness on the pressure of perfection that can come with the idea of a New Year’s resolution; when we examine the low achievement rates (48 per cent having infrequent success), we cannot deny that despite these actions being set with positive intentions, they can lead to some form of disengagement after a few months which can induce feelings of failure (the fitness industry sees a decline in attendance as early as February). The question then becomes why despite the best of intentions is the probability of people achieving resolutions so low?

There’s no concrete right or wrong answer, no one, sole cause. Instead of conducting more research to try to determine the seemingly indeterminable, let’s focus on shifting perspective to the idea that just because there’s a new year, it doesn’t mean there needs to be a new you. What if you are perfectly imperfect already? What if this New Year would benefit from the same you? What if instead of placing so much emphasis on the things we want to do in the future we dedicated more time to reflecting back on all amazing things we accomplished that year? What if our conversations moved from “what is your New Year’s resolution for 2017?” to “what are you most proud of accomplishing in 2016?” What if in this new year, we focus on less self-improvement and more self-love?

 

Ditch your New Year's Resolutions
We need more focus more on what we love. Photo Credit: www.lifehack.org

 

Increased self-awareness can lead to more self-love.

Personal growth and goal achievement are fundamental to feelings of satisfaction however perhaps a better strategy is to shift from associating those actions with specific time frames. If losing weight and/or eating healthier are a priority, why wait until January 1 to do it?  We have to be mindful of forming the habit of putting pressure on ourselves to do things that we don’t really want to do. Will our lives really be that much better if we lose 10 pounds? By saying I’ll start fresh with a new diet in the New Year; it can bring us peace of mind to justify over-eating during the festive, food-filled holidays. What we really might be doing on a subconscious level is saying  “I want to accomplish this but I’m not ready to deal with it in this present moment. I want to enjoy food without thinking about the consequences therefore I will associate a fresh start of clean eating with a certain time to buy myself some more time to indulge.”

Whether or not you have set resolutions, just remember to be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your desire to grow but give equal if not more energy to celebrating all the growth you have done on a regular basis. If at times you are having a hard-time seeing feeling proud of yourself because reaching a goal is taking longer than you hoped, remember to thank yourself for even trying.

That being said, maybe the best resolution we can make is to love ourselves more this year.

Main Image Credit: https://www.healthaim.com

Rachna Sethi

Rachna Sethi

Author

From evening parties to morning prayers, from corporate strategy to chocolate smuggling, Rachna has a thirst for living life with a work/play balance. After years in Management, Rachna packed her bags and moved to Europe for adventure, international work experience and the search for life&rsquo...

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