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New Year's Resolutions – Destined to fail?

A discursive written by Lizzie Eade



New Year’s Resolution: ‘A firm decision made on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day to do or refrain from doing something over the course of the coming year.’ Sounds simple enough right? Wrong.

Why do we believe every year that once the clock turns from 11:59 PM, 31 December – 12:00 AM, January 1, we will be a whole new person? We even convince ourselves with the catchphrase ‘new year, new me!’, but how come they never stick? According to health.usnews.com, some 80 percent of New Year's resolutions are New Year's failures by the time February comes around.’ Be healthier, fitter, faster, try harder – every year it’s the same, yet we never learn that setting unrealistic goals purely because it’s a new year will not and cannot succeed.

Don’t get me wrong, New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to reinvent yourself for the coming year and make sustainable changes to improve your lifestyle. They provide an opportunity for a fresh start and renewal, as well as promote an optimistic and hopeful mindset. If set with specific intention and purpose, New Year’s resolutions can be effective, with research from the University of Scranton finding 8% of people achieve their resolutions by the end of the year. New Year’s resolutions may encourage hope and inspiration, however, were they really going to succeed when the calendar was the only motivation?

According to finder.com.au, around ‘72% of Australians– equivalent to almost 14 million people – have set at least one New Year's resolution for 2022’, and of that the top resolutions included improving fitness (30%), adopting healthier eating habits (30%), and losing weight (28%). However, despite these optimistic pledges, New Year’s Resolutions are more likely to fail than to succeed, as often the goals set are impractical and unachievable. In one 2014 study, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions said they had unrealistic goals. If results are not immediate, we tend to quit as we can’t see our progress, with global research from Strava concluding that January 12 is the date you are most likely to break your resolution. Not even two weeks in!

At the end of the day, we as humans will always want to improve ourselves and make lifestyle changes, but why wait for January 1? Each year we place too much pressure on ourselves to become perfect, and once we slip up (around January 12!), it’s all over until the following year. So, what can we do to ensure we stick to our ambitions? There are just three simple steps one can take to ensure that their next goals or New Year’s Resolutions stick! Firstly, ensure to set specific and realistic goals, and start small. (E.g. aim to do 5 push-ups before you try 50!). Next, find a way to measure progress, even if it’s only a short goal, to keep up your consistency and motivation. Lastly, hold yourself accountable and be self-disciplined, as at the end of the day you are the only one that can make a significant difference to your lifestyle.

Despite the odds of success, people who set goals/New Year’s Resolutions are 100% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t, so go forth with an optimistic mindset! However, ensure to create healthy and sustainable resolutions, not ones that will be out sooner than the Christmas decorations are packed up!


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