As January fades away, so do New Year’s resolutions

January 29, 2020 — by Oliver Ye

Too often these hoped-for goals are abstract and hard to attain.

 “I’m never going to drink boba this year.” 

 “I will live healthier in 2020.” 

These are the kinds of resolutions my friends toss around on New Year’s Eve. 

Deep down, though, I know how futile New Year’s resolutions can be. The thought of unmet expectations and inflated goals brings me pain and migraines; I seethe in agony as my friends discuss their grandiose plans for the upcoming year. Personally, I’ve never made a single New Year’s resolution. The reason I abstain from this is that I know I will inevitably fail at some point.

It’s not to say I have a problem with New Year’s resolutions or resolutions in general; it just so happens to be that New Year’s resolutions are always some hulking, gargantuan beast that only serves to ease the conscience of the person making the resolution. Vague New Year’s resolutions exist simply to make people temporarily feel better, to make them feel that a miracle might happen without any effort. In point of fact, they rarely succeed.

The 15 pounds you were supposed to lose from your waistline remain unlost. The 2-mile runs you were going to do each morning remain unrun as you snooze in bed. The A you were supposed to get in AP Physics pretty much went out the door after the first big test of the new semester.

Of course, we should be trying to make goals to improve our lives, but latching onto enormous plans for the new year can be worse than making no big plans at all. Most people are infected by the plague that runs amok during the holiday season and make some abstract claim to the “new year, new me” idea, attempting to completely turn around their lives in a matter of days. This belief is, however, irrational, since accommodating a large change in anybody’s life is simply impractical.

In contrast, small goals and concrete plans are more likely to lead to success, and they don’t have to be done just because the calendar turns over.

For example, try achieving something like this micro goal: “by the end of this week I want to have done 80 pushups each day and had boba only once.”

That is far superior to the too abstract idea that “I will lead a healthier life.” The pitfall of vague resolutions is that it can be twisted into allowing nearly all actions; perhaps sneaking a donut in or drinking a sugary drink is a “Social-Emotionally Appropriate” activity.

Small incremental change our brains and bodies to form new habits.

It seems most people make New Year’s resolutions because they feel they ought to — and proceed to fail.

My advice: Don't just make resolutions in early January; instead, set small goals all year around when you feel the need and when you want to achieve something. Then measure your results in a way that makes failure far less likely.