After a night of partying, or staying up until midnight, the ball drops and the New Year is here. Everyone says the “Happy New Year” and then it’s bedtime. But there is something about waking up the next morning and realizing that it is in fact a new complete year.
Most individuals at this point will wake up and get started on a New Year Resolution list. It usually contains eating healthy, working out, getting up early, and more vacations. It’s made half-heartedly, and more like a grocery list than an actual list.
“I want to workout every day.”
“I will eat healthy meal every day.”
“I will start getting up at 6 am every day.”
Maybe to some this is enough to kickstart the new year, but to others it’s a reminder of past failures and that this year they must kick it into gear to have a successful year. Their successful year is driven by a half-scribbled goal on a napkin that is taped to their wall. And as they get older, the goals continue, maybe some reached but most forgotten.
Similarly, parents who still do this have the tendency to show it to their kids too. It may start off small like convincing your child to read every day. And then the idea is planted that every New Year, a goal is made to be reached. But the interesting thing about creating the list is that there is more pressure in instilling the creation of the list, but not the discipline of keeping up with it.
Every year you have teenagers modeling their goals after celebrities, and public figures because they feel that it will make them successful. Their parents have long given up on the idea of creating a Resolution list, but it’s always somehow pressured considering it is a brand-new year.
News flash: New Year Resolutions are meant to be broken. They are meant to give gym’s money, and diet culture more attention to be ridiculed throughout the year. In fact, there are multiple articles that detail the proper way to create a resolution and also stick to them.
One that I found that was simple and short was by Ohana Behavioral Health. They had 6 ways to stick to them and said that the goals you want for resolutions only work if they are made specifically. The 6 ways were:
- The goal had to be very specific. An example: Instead of saying “I want to workout every day.” Say, “I want to be active for at least 20 minutes every day.” 20 minutes of activity daily doesn’t feel as bad as just working out every day, which could entail anything.
- The goal should give a detailed plan. An example: Instead of “I want to lose weight,” it would be “I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months.”
- With your goals set rewards for yourself. It’s not just about the grand rewards at the end, it is about the small rewards to help your motivation.
- Avoid tempting situations that may affect your goals.
- Get a social tribe to help you stick to your goals, which also means not losing yourself mindlessly to social media or getting discouraged by what you haven’t accomplished
- And most importantly: Accept your failures and forgive yourself.
Failing your New Year resolution doesn’t indicate you’re a failure, or unable to achieve any goal. It simply indicates that you fell off the wagon and just need to readjust and try again. The thing with creating goals is there are a lot of adjustments along the way. What you may have thought was the plan before may change, and it is important to adapt and continue the journey of achieving your goals.
Personally, I believe New Year Resolutions are toxic. There shouldn’t be a pressure to create any, nor a continuing belief of having a resolution. Just like starting to workout, it doesn’t have to happen at a specific time. Goals are meant to be started when you decide on changing your life. If the determination is strong enough, the end results will follow.
Parents please don’t ask your teen if they have created a list, especially in the beginning of the year. Don’t let the beginning of a new year be a reason for them to create a goal. Encourage your teen to start their goals anytime they think about it. But don’t have them do it on their own, instead be active in creating that goal with them. Show interest in what they want to accomplish and be there for them as they complete it or if they fall off.
I’m not saying don’t completely discourage a new year’s resolution. Not all are bad and considering if they are followed and following what was listed above, they can absolutely be achievable. Having goals is a great way to instill discipline and show how rewarding reaching a personal goal is. As a teen, they are already faced with working towards something outside of themselves, whether it be school or an extracurricular activity. Hardly do they understand the importance of working on themselves for themselves and having a resolution list could potentially benefit that.
What I encourage are lifestyle changes over short-term goals. As an adult, I ultimately want to be healthy. Healthy is a lifestyle, and to be able to do that, I can’t achieve that overnight. I work on it, slowly, and make it a habit so I can have my goal be a lifestyle for the rest of my life.
Same goes for a teenager who at this moment may be too focused on school, over their health. Instead of “I will get an A in all my classes.” Try going for “I will develop better study habits to do better in all my classes.” There isn’t a pressure in getting an A anymore but developing better study habits that can take you through school and into college.
New Year resolutions can be hard to commit to if you go into them with the wrong intentions. Develop a healthy relationship with the goals you set, so you know the real reasons for why you set them and want to commit to them. And always, always remember that falling off your path doesn’t mean you failed. Dust yourself off, pick yourself up and start back on your journey.
Happy New Year!
Impact of failed New Year’s resolution on Mental Health and how to set realistic goals. Ohana Behavioral Health. (2019, October 7). Retrieved December 29, 2021, from https://www.ohanabehavioralhealth.com/impact-of-failed-new-years-resolution-on-mental-health-and-how-to-set-realistic-goals/