Every year people make promises to themselves to change their habits when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day, but those promises aren’t sticking. There needs to be a shift in how society addresses their improvement goals that doesn’t lean on a calendar date.
Gym memberships and diet programs see spikes in profit as thousands of Americans sign up to improve their lifestyles. People write down the skills and hobbies they want to learn and their plan to get the big promotion before June. Most of the time, New Year’s Resolutions are made with the same underlying theme of improved life. According to an article from the New York Post in 2020, 68% of Americans give up on their resolutions within the first month of the year. So why do we make resolutions at all if they don’t make it through the year.
I’m not saying resolutions are completely useless. Having goals, an achievable timeline and the right support system is very important. Motivation is expected to come and go, but as long as you have the willpower to gut out your obstacles, there’s nothing stopping you. Resolutions are supposed to have that same methodology behind them but there’s something about them that feels temporary.
Some people have optimism on their side and say that making their resolutions can get their year started on the right foot. Having a fresh new year to conquer anything you want to get done can serve as motivation on its own. A clean slate is sometimes the one thing needed to get through the challenging habit breaking; we know the coming days are ours for the taking.
Others don’t make resolutions at all for the same reason the New York Post found; they aren’t followed through. If someone really wants to make a change in their lifestyle, why not start in the middle of April? Why change everything I’m doing just because the calendar said so?
Making New Year’s Resolutions is a step in the right direction for people who want to make those big changes in their lives, but there is a major aspect missing from them: longevity. I’m going to suggest that when people start a long-term goal, they start with smaller, short-term wins to get them going. Start kicking pebbles and save hoisting boulders for when you’ve built the strength.
I’m going to make a comfortable assumption that the reason people give up on their resolutions so quickly is because it feels like they’re out of reach. Breaking down what needs to be done to get from start to finish will make the end feel a little closer. If there’s a job promotion on your list of goals, maybe start with analyzing what you can do at work to make yourself a better candidate. If there’s a weight loss goal in mind, start with light exercise and changing small dietary habits.
There will never be a correct answer to, “When should I start making changes?” New Year’s Resolutions are just one option available to making changes. They shouldn’t be a massive stressor that pushes you to give up. Use the New Year to your advantage and start small.
Abby Provencal can be contacted at