The Hidden Toxicity of New Year’s Resolutions
Clemence Smith discusses if 2021 is really the year for resolutions.
One of the lessons 2020 taught us is never to assume what the future has in store. As government regulations change nearly every week, numerous events have been scrapped, and the way we work and interact has changed forever. Cancellation has become the new norm, making planning seem pointless as it often leads to disappointment. As we enter 2021, no one dares to predict what the year holds for us. What, then, is the point of making resolutions?
Many were overly optimistic about 2020, setting themselves up for disillusionment. As the clock counted down on the 31st of December 2019, some vowed to make 2020 the best year ever. Unsurprisingly, the beginning of a new decade prompted many to set exceedingly ambitious goals, but many of these went unachieved. However, pandemic aside, it isn’t necessarily unusual to fail to fulfil resolutions each year.
One study found that only about eight per cent of people actually succeed with their resolutionsBrittney McNamara
Despite stemming from good intentions, resolutions conveniently bypass the steps needed to achieve them. Far-away goals are overwhelming, especially if they are as vague as “eat healthy” or “read more”. Despite being deceptively attainable, many fail to see the key to their success: consistency.
Why wait until the new year, anyway? This arbitrary date signifies a fresh start, and many use it as an opportunity to set themselves the same goals they had the year before. Any day, however, can mark the beginning of a lifestyle change if you so wish. I would even argue that starting a project on a random Tuesday will make you more likely to complete it; determining your own timeframe creates a sense of control from the offset.
Many of us struggle to accept that the pandemic is out of our control. Dwelling on what could have been is an easy trap to fall into and will only make you feel more restless. Try to focus on the smaller picture instead, and divide those daunting goals into smaller steps to take every day. Ticking things off your to-do list (however minimal) is satisfying, as it serves as a reminder of your progress. Instead of vowing to work out more, for example, form a plan that acknowledges your current abilities and then work from there.
However pessimistic or optimistic you’re feeling about 2021, don’t put pressure on yourself. Many students struggle with online university, as they feel drained after staring at their computer screens all day. As we’re spending an unprecedented amount of time away from our loved ones, it is more important than ever to look after our mental health. Remember that you’re trying your best to navigate circumstances that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. Listen to your body and take sufficient breaks. Ditching New Year’s resolutions will help you avoid that guilt-trip you get every time you step away from work at your desk!