A little over three weeks ago, 2017 became 2018, thus marking the start of New Year’s resolutions. People have been making New Year’s resolutions for about 4,000 years. Like many, I usually make a New Year’s resolution or two and, like many, I don’t end up achieving my resolutions. In fact, only eight percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
Nevertheless, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, I started thinking about my resolutions. I watched a few YouTube videos where people discussed theirs, and one video by Danielle Marie Carolan stood out to me. She treats resolutions as goals rather than resolutions.
This got me thinking about the way that we frame New Year’s resolutions: What if we framed them simply as goals? Goals that we could set any other time of the year? What makes New Year’s resolutions different from other goals?
New Year’s resolutions only happen once a year and they rarely succeed. We say we want to “eat healthier” or “work out more,” but that’s extremely vague. What if we set a tangible goal? Maybe, “run a 5K in a few months” instead of “exercise more.”
And no matter how we phrase these things — whether as goals or resolutions — why do we wait until the start of a new year to begin achieving them? Why is it “new year, new me,” when the only difference is the date? Every day we have the chance to make changes. Why do we wait until the first of January to institute change when we could start today or tomorrow?
By waiting for the first day of a new year, we aren’t really setting a resolution because we are motivated to change. It has sort of become a tradition to come up with resolutions. You feel that you need to make one for the new year in order to better yourself, but just saying something like, “I want to get in shape” does not mean that you are going to get in shape.
So how can one achieve change that isn’t dependent on a day that happens every 365 days? Set a goal and start when you decide on that goal. Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, I set a goal ahead of New Year’s when I first had the idea. I felt more motivated to actually complete it, and I think this will make me more likely to follow through with the idea. It is not a goal that will take up just January; it will hopefully last all year.
We need to teach people to create positive change in their lives outside of the small window of time that is New Year’s. New Year’s resolutions consistently fail, and we want to set goals for ourselves that we will follow through with. A person does not change who they are or their habits from Dec. 31, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018. The year does not dictate your goals and your attitudes. Starting goals outside of the window of time that society has designed for us may lead to an improvement in your life. Don’t wait for New Year’s to better yourself; do it any time of the year.
Emilia Beuger is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]