Failing resolutions can be caused by a lack of patience. graphic by Conner Maggio

New Years resolutions hinge on setting realistic goals

Trying to be a new you during the new year can be frustrating, with slowly-progressing goals and unrealistic standards.

Well, it’s the New Year again, which means many people, including myself, have embarked upon ambitious resolutions. It is routine at the beginning of a year for people to decide to change areas of their lives with which they are dissatisfied.

What is it about entering into a new year that makes us decide we want to change? Maybe it’s the lure of a fresh start. The beginning of 2019 feels exciting, as if all the things we didn’t like about ourselves in 2018, the fact we ate too much sugar or barely worked out, etc., don’t seem to matter anymore. Instead, 2019 is a clean slate. “I’m going to change, and it’s going to stick this year!” is the optimistic outlook that drives us to make resolutions.

While these hopeful goals we set would improve our lives if we stuck to them, the fact is that most of them will not even last a month. According to U.S. News and World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

Setting different purposes every year and then failing them in a month is obviously a continuous problem. Since this is a persistent cycle, aren’t New Year’s resolutions inherently structured to make us fail? To resolve to do something is what a resolution is, and when we fail the goal we set for ourselves, it is discouraging. The practice of changing our lives seems so daunting because we have failed every time in the past to improve.

I think it’s beneficial to take a look at our lives and want to change. After all, if we aren’t evolving, we are decaying due to the natural cycle of life. But how do we avoid the pitfalls that have constantly plagued our efforts to change in the past?

Maybe I’m just cynical because I am one of the people who consistently fails and is again consuming large quantities of chocolate by Valentine’s Day. Since I’m in the majority, I can’t help but wonder: how do the other 20 percent of people who stick to their resolutions do it?

I think part of it is that I tend to set unrealistic goals. I mean, is cutting out sugar completely on the first day of the year really realistic? After the sugar overload of the holidays, my body is not going to suddenly stop craving cookies and candy. So for New Year’s resolutions to stick, the first step would be to set realistic and doable goals.

The second thing is to not get frustrated by small amounts of progress. After all, by February, I’m not going to look like workout guru Jillian Michaels after working out only two days a week. I should just be happy I’m less out of breath from climbing a flight of stairs.

That’s my simple and hopefully helpful advice for sticking to my new decision. Who knows — maybe this year is the year I’ll be in the other 20 percent and actually stick to my resolutions for more than a month.

Post Author: Lizzy Young