“New year, new me” is not really a sentiment I have ever subscribed to (even though it’s definitely tempting at times!). While I don’t think that making New Year’s resolutions is inherently a bad thing, I also don’t think they’re the best way to actually make the changes I want to make in my life.
That being said, 2020 has been one of the most dumpster fire years on record, and I know that basically everyone is looking to 2021 as a chance to shake it all off and find the light at the end of this weird and dark tunnel.
So, does that mean that we should make extra sure to make resolutions for the new year, or does that mean we should opt out of making any resolutions at all?
As always, I’m here as your friendly neighborhood Mom Friend to weigh both sides of this debate.
While I don’t think that making New Year’s resolutions is inherently a bad thing, I also don’t think they’re the best way to make the changes I want in my life.
The Dirty Truth About New Year’s Resolutions
Psychologists, researchers, and other experts have long said that New Year’s resolutions aren’t very effective. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, at least 80 percent of people lose their resolve by mid-February. Yikes.
There are lots of reasons why people end up falling short of their resolutions. They’re often a little too ambitious, or they burn themselves out early and can’t keep up the motivation to follow through. This isn’t a case of laziness or “not wanting it enough” (which is a BS concept anyway—remember when I talked about motivation in previous posts?).
Rather, it’s a case of placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves because we’ve decided that a new year will magically give us the ability to meet goals we’ve failed at in the past.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t bother with trying to be better or grow! All I’m saying is that basically, the conventional idea of New Year’s resolutions is a trap, even at the best of times.
This Is Not the Best of Times
Let’s be real. We’re staring down spiking COVID-19 cases. We’re prepping for a second round of pandemic lockdown. We’re all still trying to figure out how to stay sane while cooped up in our houses. Oh, AND most of us are dealing with seasonal depression on top of any other anxieties and troubles we might be facing.
So, I say this to everyone with all the love in my heart: You are not equipped to follow through on a New Year’s resolution right now. And that’s okay.
You might be thinking, “Well, I should at least try to make a resolution!”
No, you definitely should not. Why? Because setting yourself up for failure isn’t fair to you, and it will only put an extra burden on your mind. You’ll feel pressured to Do the Thing, and you’ll feel guilty when you just don’t have the time, energy, or willpower left to make it happen.
But! I have an alternative suggestion because I do think it’s important to give yourself something to strive for in 2021 besides bare-minimum survival.
Instead of Resolutions, Try Intentions
“Setting intentions” might sound a little hokey, but it doesn’t have to be! All that phrase really means is that you’re identifying one thing in your life that you’d like to improve. This thing, whatever it is, will likely affect all aspects of your life.
Intentions are also smaller, more focused, and less demanding than resolutions. They’re little promises that you can keep, or short mantras that you can repeat to yourself.
For example, something like, “allow openness into your life” would be a good 2021 intention to set for myself. I’m not naturally very open, adventurous, or expressive, and it can definitely hold me back at times.
Having that short, focused phrase can help remind me to be more expressive of my love for my family or more open to saying yes to new experiences without the guilt or pressure of having a resolution like, “always say yes to new things.”
Intentions are gentle and forgiving, and they give you some wiggle room to be kind to yourself.
Some people also like to choose a single word to focus on for the entire year. This could be something like “clarity,” “wellness,” or “growth.” Whatever word resonates with who you are and how you hope to grow in the near future would be a good choice.
Ditch the Resolutions For 2021
I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I’m especially against them for the sake of everyone’s sanity.
I think it’s great to try to grow and become a better person, but I also think that we need to give ourselves the grace to do so without the anxiety and pressure that often comes along with resolutions.
What do you think? Do you like New Year’s resolutions? Do you have a different perspective from mine? Share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s talk about it!