New Year's Resolutions, And Why You Shouldn't Give Up

Why Resolutions Are Worth It

Resolutions written in sand
Resolutions can be whatever you want them to be, and they can be changed. PeskyMonkey/E+/Getty Images

Just like to do lists, resolutions are tools that can help you to get things done and make positive changes, but can create stress of their own.  There are several reasons that resolutions can be inspiring for some people and stressful for others (and both inspiring and stressful for other people), and sometimes this stress drives people to forgo the idea of setting resolutions entirely.  If you're feeling ready to give up on resolutions (or have sworn them off and are just reading this out of curiosity), please reconsider!  

New Year's Resolutions can be a wonderful tool for change as well.  When is a better time to reflect upon your life, assess what's working, and decide what changes are the most important to you?  When will you find a larger number of people who are also making changes in their lives, and are primed to high-five your success and share theirs with you?  When you look at the potential benefits of making even one positive change in your life, is it really outweighed by the stress it could cause, especially if this stress can be avoided?

The stress of resolutions is real, though.  Rather than abandoning resolutions altogether, let's look at where the stress is coming from and find ways around it. Here's why some people get stressed by resolutions. (And if you are reading this after the beginning of the year, be sure to read the last reason and take heart!)

Past Failure

Resolutions washing away with the tide
Resolutions can seem to disappear with the tide. But don't give up!. PeskyMonkey/E+/Getty Images

This is probably the major reason that people give up.  They set their goals in a place filled with hope, then find themselves doing great for a few weeks, then slip a little, then fall.  (Does this sound familiar?)  After a few years of the hope-success-disappointment cycle, it's easy to see why people may decide that the whole process is flawed.  If you have tried to accomplish the same thing multiple years in a row (as many people try with weight loss, fitness, or quitting smoking), you may find it difficult to see past the previous disappointments to believe that it can be different, especially when there's an established pattern.  However, there is another way to approach things.  If you are able to create a new pattern and see a new route to success, you can achieve a different outcome, so don't give up!

Strategies for Setting and Reaching Goals


Embarrassed man
Not meeting your goals can be embarrassing, but don't let a little embarrassment keep you from a better life!. Richard Drury/Stone/Getty Images

 This one goes hand-in-hand with past failure.  Many people share their success with people as they're maintaining their resolutions in the beginning, and then feel embarrassed to report that they haven't maintained them.  If this happens year after year for you, you may be understandably reluctant to share your resolutions with others.  And if you're not sharing them, you may decide it's not worth setting them.  (Plus, it's more challenging to maintain them without a support network--more on that later.) However, sharing your goals with the right people (or person) can be more empowering than embarrassing, if you know who to let in. 

Learn How "Positive Peer Pressure" Works

Not Wanting To Go Along With The Crowd

One stands apart from the crowd
Standing apart from the crowd isn't a bad thing--but sometimes the crowd has good ideas. Image Source Image Source/ Getty Images

 Some people like to stand apart from the group, to do things their own way.  That's fine, too.  Everyone else might be setting New Year's Resolutions, but you may want to set New Year's Goals for yourself.  Or you could just set regular goals. Or you could just decide (without any labels) that you want to make a change or two, just because you as an individual decided to.  Whatever you call it, they're still good for you!

No Time Or Energy For It

Kid with too many things to do
Too many resolutions can make you feel like a kid with too many adult demands. It doesn't need to be this way!. muharrem öner/E+/Getty Images

You may decide that your plate is already full, or that you don't have the energy to change your life right now.  This is when it's a great idea to make a small change rather than a huge one.  If you want to make more changes after that, you'll have the momentum of your success to build on.  And if you make the right changes (read: stress relieving changes), you may find that you have more energy soon to tackle more in life.  

Resolutions for Stress Relief

You Think It's Too Late

Time from an hourglass
Time is passing, but it's not too late!. Takashi Kitajima/Moment/Getty Images

 You may be reading this and thinking about the topic in February or March, and feel like it's too late.  I get it--I used to think it was "too late" on January 2nd, because if I didn't start the year off with the new change, I'd already blown my "perfect record."  It's actually almost better to start in the first week rather than the first day of January, since you may tarnish your perfect record as part of the process of change, and this way, you won't feel like it's cause to give up.  Start where you are, and work from there.  Just get started!

Here Are Some Low-Stress Goal-Setting Strategies

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