New Year’s Resolutions: Helpful or Harmful?

The Negative Effects of the Common Yearly Tradition

With the new year, many people begin to make resolutions or goals that they aspire to accomplish. The most common are going to the gym every day, eating less junk food, losing weight, or even becoming more organized. While these resolutions may seem like a great idea, can these actually have negative effects on one’s mental health?

The main problem with these goals is that they are incredibly vague. Only saying that someone is going to “get organized” is not specific enough to make it achievable. What is going to be organized? When will it start? Is it one certain area or multiple?

These are questions that should be asked when making a decision about what the person is trying to accomplish in the new year. The plans are made when people are most motivated to change along with the new year. “New year, new me” is sometimes a good mindset to have for people who want change in their lives, but, for the most part, people don’t have the ability to change big parts of their lives off of a vague goal set without much thought. 

Another issue is that many resolutions are unachievable. Going to the gym every day may sound easy enough, but is it possible with your schedule? What are your work hours? School hours? How far away is the nearest gym? Can you drive or have the means to get there?

All of these factors contribute to whether or not a person can achieve the goal, and most don’t take them into account when making it. 

Dunbar sophomores Aya Shakhashiro and Ayla Pourghasemi had a few thoughts on the matter. Both expressed their feelings about how overly ambitious resolutions set people up for failure. 

 “I feel like I and a lot of other people put a lot of pressure on themselves to do what they said they would, and when they don’t, they feel discouraged from continuing with it all,” Shakhashiro said. 

Not seeing the resolution through can create feelings of failure and attribute low self-esteem. “I usually forget about any resolutions I made by the time February hits,” Shakhashiro said. 

Similarly, Pourghasemi expressed apprehension about people’s mindsets. “I know people who think that if they don’t stick to their goal for even one day, they completely give up until the next year comes around.”

While it may seem difficult to make specific, attainable goals for the new year, Forbes has some suggestions to make them more achievable. 

  1. Clearly defining goals makes them easier to accomplish. 
  2. Tracking progress can help with keeping the effort up.
  3. Have patience with yourself. If a goal involves a physical change, it takes some time to see the efforts take place.
  4. Make any goals more known to friends and family. Dr. Paul Marciano says that telling friends and family what you hope to achieve can make it more likely for you to be successful. 

If you’ve already made your 2023 resolutions and feel like giving up, consider tweaking them with the previously given tips to make it a more fulfilling and rewarding experience.

And remember: there’s no shame in starting small, making the effort is a step in the right direction.