“New Year, New Me?”


Invigorating and fresh, New Year’s resolutions give individuals the opportunity to essentially become new people; to fix bad behaviors and stop old habits, and to ideally develop into better versions of themselves. Making New Year’s resolutions is an ancient tradition ingrained in cultures across the world. As explained by “The History of New Year’s Resolutions”, by History.com, “The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago”, and according to “New Year’s Resolutions Around The World” by DeepEnglish.com, “Today, people all over the world still make New Year’s resolutions”, with the subjects of the resolutions varying depending on location. Whatever the resolution might be, making one might seem like the perfect way to set a personal goal. An extremely healthy and important human practice, “Setting goals is an effective way to increase personal motivation and to help create life changes”, as stated in an article from HealthDirect titled “Goal Setting”. However, New Year’s resolutions are often particularly broad statements that require major life shifts or changes, and as a result are unrealistic and set the people behind them up for failure. 

Many times, New Year’s resolutions require people to change long-standing repetitive behaviors. By announcing goals on New Year’s that ask for such immediate change, people are setting themselves up for personal failure, an outcome potentially more mentally harmful than that of not making a resolution in the first place. Ava Giarracco ‘24 states, “I think [resolutions] make people feel an unnecessary amount of pressure to have this instantaneous life change when in reality we are always evolving and maturing as people and it takes time but everyone should do it on their own schedule.” 

As well as this, resolutions that involve people becoming “nicer”, “a better person” or “healthy” suggest that they don’t already possess these qualities, when in reality they might just need to change some isolated behaviors. Resolutions such as these allow people to ignore the positive characteristics they already possess and the personal progress they’ve made even since their last resolutions.

New Year’s Eve itself, a holiday falling right in the middle of winter and following no shift in nature that is common in the origin of other holidays, is a particularly odd event. Despite it being in the middle of a season commonly labeled as the most depressing, many people see New Year’s as the start of not only a fresh year, but the start of a fresh “them”. It’s a time in which people are called upon to reflect on their identity and consider how it might be revised or bettered. 

However, this view doesn’t allow for the consideration of the present life conditions of the person expected to make resolutions, or how outside factors may prevent them from being in a place to reflect on themselves or change. The pandemic was a really good example of this. How could people be expected to reflect on a year that was filled with so much tragedy and confusion and make goals to advance themselves and their lives when they spent the year just trying to understand and process the chaos? 

There is also a certain social pressure surrounding making New Year’s resolutions. Around New Year’s, social media often overwhelms people with examples, motivational videos, and quotes urging them to become kinder, happier, more fit, etc. in life. Seeing so many others announce the changes they’ll make in the upcoming year can make reluctant resolution makers feel as though they have an obligation to participate. That is a large amount of pressure at a seemingly random time in the year, a time when people are often grieving the end of the holidays and are stressed about new work projects or school semesters. 

Rather than making New Year’s resolutions that are humorously unrealistic and destined to fail, people should focus more on making specific, small, everyday goals that they can easily achieve, be proud of, and stay consistent with. That way, they can commit to working on certain characteristics without pressuring themselves to change overnight. As Ruby Weber ‘24 says, “you shouldn’t need an excuse to make goals, you should already be doing it.”