The truth about resolutions

I have never understood the hype around new year’s resolutions. Jan. 1 is simply a date, just as Dec. 31, and I don’t get why people pin their hopes of becoming a better person on one arbitrary day. People enter January with the expectation that with the new year, they will somehow become more organized and proactive. This is not the case: real personal change takes time, effort, setbacks and resilience. 

I have never stuck with a new year’s resolution. It feels good to promise to go to sleep earlier on Dec. 31, but old habits continue to persist throughout the new year. Adjusting my sleep schedule requires gradual change, a structured plan and dedication. New year’s resolutions rarely come with concrete plans or systems of support; it is simply expected that you can switch yourself magically into a different person with different habits. 

Many resolutions are dropped just weeks into January. Gym memberships spike in early January but nosedive mere weeks later. New year’s resolutions promote the idea that if you fail once, your resolution no longer counts, and you have to wait for another opportunity for a fresh start to start anew. 

January is a particularly difficult month to try and build new habits in. It’s dark, dreary and cold. Many people’s seasonal depression is high in January, and after the stress of winter holidays, people may feel stressed and burnt out. In the early months of the year, the focus should be on being gentle on yourself as you heal from stress and manage to maintain yourself throughout the winter instead of giant, sweeping resolutions. 

This is not to say, “Don’t make goals!” Make goals, but first, make a plan beyond simply stating a resolution on social media and to your friends. Make sure you have people around you who will support you. Make a plan for if you backslide or can’t maintain the habits you plan to make and be gentle w yourself if you do. Most of all, you don’t have to wait for arbitrary start dates like the beginning of a month or year to begin. Any time is important and worthy.