Should you make New Year’s resolutions?
Photo Illustration by Mathias MacPhee
The most wonderful time of the year
A friend of mine once declared, “New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken.” She said this as she inhaled her third slice of pizza and washed it down with a can of pop. Her goal to eat healthier in the new year clearly didn’t last. Sadly, most people can relate to failed resolutions. Every time January 1 rolls around, sincere promises to change are made by millions of Canadians—promises most of us don’t intend to keep. So should we all ditch this year’s vows because they’re going to fail anyway? Or should we continue the practice of ringing in the new year with a positive attitude and a hope for change?
I love January, but not because I spent the past two weeks indulging in sweets and spending time with my family. And it’s also not because of all the shopping I can do thanks to the gift cards I’ve just received (but this is a very close second). January is one of my favourite months of the year because it’s a blank slate, a month of change. And who doesn’t like change when it’s good for you?
I understand why some people might be skeptical of New Year’s resolutions. Their failure rate is high and with such a bad rap it’s a wonder we still commit to them. But to the naysayers, I ask, “How can we expect to succeed if we don’t occasionally fail?” Cliché, I know, but it’s true. Some view resolutions as a chance to retry achieving goals they may have failed on before, maybe with a different approach. There’s no better time to try for change. Whether it’s quitting smoking, eating healthy, or losing that holiday weight, New Year’s resolutions are the perfect way to start the new year fresh.
However, like every goal, resolutions must be reasonable and smart. Most people abandon their resolutions far before Valentine’s Day because their approach is all wrong. Instead of just haphazardly scribbling down a couple of things you’d like to adjust in your life, approach these goals like any other—have a game plan. And hey, if you fail, there’s always next year.
Nay to New Year’s resolutions
January 1 is a lie. Seriously, whoever thought of marking this date as the day we’d all drastically change something about ourselves wasn’t thinking clearly. The vast majority of people are nursing a massive hangover from the night before, yet we for some reason deem this the best time to change our lives for good.
Timing isn’t the only thing wrong with New Year’s resolutions. All January 1 brings around is false hope. We associate the day with a chance to start anew and change ourselves for the better. The sad truth is that if you wanted to change, you would have already. If you were serious about halting your partying ways and hitting up Morisset Library more often, you would’ve already started. Same goes for wanting to reduce student debt and start saving money.
The first of January isn’t some magical date. You can’t just write something down and expect a miracle. Goals take time and planning, and they can happen whenever. What’s the difference between July 7 and Jan. 1? Besides the vast difference in weather, the answer is nothing. What’s stopping anyone from changing their lives during any other time of the year? Stop buying into the false hope of New Year’s resolutions. You’ll probably save some money on sky-high gym membership rates during that time of the year.
Wanting to improve yourself and change something isn’t just some nouveau-hippy mentality. It is vital to have goals and to want to accomplish things in your life. How else would we grow as people? What isn’t vital is banking on one day for that change to take place. All that does is set us up for guilt and regret.
Instead, I propose to take the day to self-reflect. Let’s look back at the previous year and try to understand what made it good and bad. From there we can better assess why we want to make resolutions. When we’re writing out our goals, we should make reasonable ones and remember that real change takes time and effort. And the best part about these resolutions? They can happen at any time.