OPINION: New Year’s Resolutions Are Trendy, Not Helpful

Sylvie Call, A&E Editor

The beginning of the year is extremely stressful for people who are goal setters. Every January, people are determined to improve themselves somehow, whether it’s through diets, gym memberships, saving money, etc. And every year, most people fail to keep their self-promises all year long. Maybe it’s my position as a high schooler, but New Year’s resolutions seem pointless and more harmful than helpful.

The tradition of resolutions goes back centuries, which we know because there are journal entries from the 1800s where people describe how they plan to be better in the new year. However, those resolutions focused almost entirely on improving one’s character. People vowed to be more sensitive in the things they said, or to be nicer to a family member, or to have more diligence in the workplace. However, as a society, we have changed the meaning of self-improvement from focusing on our personality and character to how we look. We find the things we dislike about ourselves, and blame our problems on that. People join a gym because they think exercise will make them look better, and therefore feel better. People don’t bother to research the effects of diets and just starve themselves, again to look and supposedly feel better about themselves. Trying to eat healthier and completely cutting things out of your regular diet are completely different; the latter has actually been proven to correlate with weight gain. It is true that exercise and eating healthy can improve your mental and physical state. Problems arise when exercise and diets are put in place because the person is focused on their appearance and judgement from others, rather than their health and state of mind. We are raised to hate our bodies and to have one single ideal image of how we ought to look, and people often make resolutions to fit that ideal. Fad diets and month-long gym memberships only degrade one’s self-worth. The new year should be about improvement, but the urge for improvement shouldn’t come from a place of self-hatred.

In addition, so many people fail to follow through with these resolutions anyway. We pick an aspect of our lives or our year that we dislike, and promise to change it by doing something all year long. However, life is unpredictable and these resolutions often fall through. Events happen that make the resolutions impossible, or we are just unable to set up a meaningful routine. 80% of people fail their resolutions by February. According to psychologytoday.com, one of the biggest reasons that that number is so large is because people often try too hard for their resolutions. They set goals that they aren’t ready to complete, trying to take two steps forward when they can realistically only take half a step. When these far-reaching goals don’t result in the immediate progress that people expect, they become discouraged, feeling like they have failed themselves and their society by not following through with their resolutions. Even if we try to live by the idea that failure is good because we learn from our mistakes, failing will never feel good. We have been brainwashed by the media to strive for the impossible, and when we realize just how impossible it is, we are miserable and our self-worth plummets again. Each year brings new trials and new successes, and focusing on failure can only hold you back.

If New Year’s resolutions work for you, great! Your brain functions in a way that allows goals to truly help you enjoy your life and live it the way that you want to. But for the rest of us who just do it to follow the trend, I advise you to skip the resolutions, or turn them into something more positive and achievable. Take away the time limit. Instead of getting a month-long gym membership or using appetite suppressants as a diet, set a goal to start appreciating the way that you look. Set a goal to improve your mental health by thinking about the day-to-day positives. Set a goal to be nicer to someone, including yourself or someone else that you fight with frequently. Goals like these can be year long, month long, come and go, or however you want. This takes away the added stress and most guilt that comes with “failing.” Make 2019 about enjoying your year, not marking the checkboxes that the rest of the world set up for you.