New Year’s Resolutions: Don’t Bother

Natasha Sidik


I’m a strong believer in the fact that resolutions just don’t work. The long list of things I want will continue to grow — heck, humans are known to have a tendency to want things they don’t have, aren’t we? If I continue making a new set of resolutions every 365 days, they will simply drag on eternally.

Before 2018, I’ve always been someone who used to be an avid supporter of self-improvement; making New Year’s resolutions were my jam. However, the momentum of a New Year always died down in a few weeks.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, I lost more than 15 pounds. These two years were the first two years of my life where I was able to lose weight healthily and naturally — without trying too hard or beating myself up over the process (or what seems to be the lack thereof). And these two years were also the first few times I fully avoided resolutions.

My accomplishment does not come from the desire to become the person I’d ideally want to be; that’s how I’ve always done things, and all I end up feeling is burnout by the end of the month (or week, even). Instead, I focused on two small goals: going to my therapy appointments every week, and by regularly eating breakfast along with drinking two glasses of water every morning.

Now, don’t let my anti-resolution stance drag you down: it’s great that you want to exercise more, drink more water and read more. The human species’ desire for growth is always commendable; however, the ambiguity of resolutions isn’t setting you up for it. Instead, it seems to be a recipe for failure.

As pessimistic as I may sound, how do you really gauge your growth when the marker itself is arbitrary?

Picture this: It’s the second week of January and you’ve been trying to exercise more. You’re trying, but it’s hard to tell if you’re athletic form has actually changed. A few more weeks pass, and the non-existent sense of improvement usually leads to you giving up on the resolution entirely.

An alternative to making resolutions is to create realistic, concrete and visible goals. Instead of working on “drinking more water,” maybe try setting a small but specific goal like “drink a glass of water every day before breakfast.”

Psychologist Lynn Bufka from the American Psychology Association states that, “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for.”

Small changes like these helps individuals practice awareness. Having a goal like this also gives a sense of improvement, and that improvement is measurable.

2019 is just another year; don’t be so hard on yourself. Instead, think of tiny changes you can implement in your day-to-day life — they’ll work much better than classic New Year’s resolutions, I promise. Remember: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.