You know the drill. Out with the old; in with the new. Time for a fresh start and a new you, right? Wrong! Every year, countless people across the globe share their New Year’s resolutions in the hopes of making major changes they’ve been putting off. And every year, the majority of them don’t even make it past the first two weeks.
In all, only about 19% of New Year’s resolutions spark lasting change. The rest tend to fall aside quickly. Still thinking January 1 is your day to launch a new, massive undertaking? Here are five good reasons to find an alternative solution.
New Year’s Resolutions Are Great… in Theory
The thought of gathering the resolve, with the support of friends and family, to reject a bad habit or work toward a major goal is an admirable one. We all want to improve ourselves in some way, and voicing a commitment alongside others can feel empowering.
Problem is, the New Year’s party will eventually end, everyone will go home and go to bed—and then in the morning, you alone will be there to see your resolution through. While some people might summon the will to adhere to the changes they’ve committed to, most will likely be more concerned with the status of their post-party hangovers.
It Didn’t Work Out Last Year
Considering the statistics, most of us who made resolutions last year inevitably watched them crash and burn—and we’re likely to do so again. Why put yourself through a repeat of last year? Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, there’s little reason to set yourself up for that kind of disappointment. That’s not to say you can’t make goals and stick to them; it just means New Year’s resolutions might not be the best approach.
You’re Putting Yourself on the Spot
New Year’s resolutions put a lot of pressure on one little day, and they put a lot of pressure on the people who make them. Yes, we sometimes need a fire under our rears to get us jumping in the right direction, but the damage of the burn can set us even further back if it doesn’t get us going the way we’d hoped it would.
When we take an all-or-nothing approach, it rarely works out in our favor. Resolutions such as the type we gravitate toward on New Year’s Eve simply tend to be either too ambitious or two broad.
Why Put Off What You Can Start Right Now?
Realistically, if you need to wait until a major holiday to improve your health, habits or another big aspect in your life, you’ll probably find an excuse on New Year’s Day to keep pushing it off as well. Just like with the all-or-nothing approach, “now-or-never” puts too much weight on one key moment. There is nothing magical about January 1st, so why give it so much power?
Make a choice—and then ask yourself, “How badly do I want this?” Most of all, are you ready to make this change?
Sustainability Is the Key
My mother had an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food, one that would leave me with my own battles throughout my teens and young adulthood. She was constantly jumping on fad diets, and yet her obesity only worsened as the years passed. She died of cardiovascular disease in her 50s.
My own journey with food and fitness led me to the understanding that there is no “dieting”; there is coming to healthy a relationship with food—slowly and mindfully. The same applies for so many other “bad habits” or other issues we may feel the need to tackle on New Year’s Eve.
What healthy lifestyle choices can we make instead? These need to be changes we can feel comfortable living with, remember. If a giant leap feels like too much, maybe baby steps are a better starting point. Make a plan and make it sustainable. Talk to a trusted doctor, therapist or dietician for direction if you need help getting started.
New Year’s can be a time of new beginnings, new hopes, new endeavors—but it doesn’t need to be the end-all, be-all to our self-improvement goals. Instead of making a resolution this year, consider simply deciding to take the steps right now to be the best version of you possible. It might still take some work, but it could be the beginning of real, lasting change.