New Year’s Resolutions: Yay or Nay?

Resolutions Article Photo

Written by: Heather Stanley

Photo from: Unsplash

“New year, new me”, right? Easier said than done – sometimes that extra hour of sleep is just too good to give up for a trip to the gym, especially when it’s -10°C outside! 

Making New Year’s resolutions is a great concept in theory… but its commercialization has led to a point where making and keeping resolutions can feel more like a competition than a challenge for genuine self-improvement. Seeing people on social media advertise a lifestyle of going to the gym every day, eating açai bowls and salads, and consistently waking up at 5:30am may be inspiring for some, but it can also set a seemingly unattainable bar to reach. The notion of completely resetting your life overnight is just not realistic. However, if you want to make changes to your lifestyle, goal setting is important. So how can you do this without falling into the toxic side of the “New Year’s resolutions” culture?

Firstly, I believe it is super important to set realistic goals. Everyone is different; the routine that works for your friend or your favourite influencer might not be the right fit for you. Having the ambition to make big changes in your life is fantastic, but trying to change too much at once is overwhelming. It’s far more rewarding to make consistent progress towards a realistic goal than to struggle to stay on track to meet a huge goal. For instance, if you want to read more, try making it part of your daily routine instead of setting a goal to read xnumber of books this year. Picking up a book for ten minutes every day seems far more manageable than setting out to read a huge stack of books in a given time period.

This connects to my second tip: start small. Change is difficult; give your body and mind time to adjust. For example, if you want to start waking up at 6am instead of 8am, start by setting your alarm just fifteen minutes earlier. Get up at 7:45am for a few days, and then push the alarm back another fifteen minutes. This approach allows your body to ease into a new routine. Always keep in mind that big long-term change requires small daily changes. As writer Will Durant said when paraphrasing Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do…therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit”. Repetition really is the key to establishing good habits.

On that note, it is imperative to be patient. You don’t need to be a new person on January 1st – there is no universal timeline to follow. It takes a while to develop new routines. Don’t be discouraged if you find that a certain habit just doesn’t work for you; it’s alright to experiment with different techniques and make adjustments until you find a routine that feels right. I know a lot of people who swear by journalling; personally, I prefer to word-vomit in my Notes app every once in a while. Others might find catharsis through exercise, art, or simply stopping to take deep breaths when needed.

My final piece of advice: don’t be too hard on yourself! This is something I’ve been working on a lot lately. I started a “30 day yoga challenge” this month, and I’ve skipped several days already. Younger me would have given up on the challenge because I wasn’t executing it “properly”. But now I realize the important thing is not to complete the challenge flawlessly, but to see it through on my own terms. There will never be a “perfect time” to try something new or to alter your routine. Try not to judge yourself for your progress. It’s alright if you fall behind schedule…you made the schedule! You are the only one holding yourself accountable, so be kind to yourself.

I hope you found something in this article helpful. Whether you made a laundry list of resolutions for this year, or you aren’t planning on changing a thing, that is totally okay! Do what works for you, and never forget the importance of prioritizing your well-being.

Good luck :)




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