New Years 2023: Are resolutions really helpful?


By Chloe Bowman

New Year’s resolutions: Some people choose to make them, embarking on an often week-long journey to try to change their whole lives, and others elect to skip out on the mindset that just because the year has reverted back to January, their lifestyle isn’t working. 

While New Year’s resolutions may be helpful to some, to make them feel productive and healthy, they often end in failure, with a puddle of self-pity on the side. 

The failures of resolutions can be attributed to many things, from putting too much pressure on oneself, to not having a specific enough goal. But, in 2000, University of Toronto professors Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman, coined the term “false hope syndrome,” which is the most likely cause as to why resolutions don’t usually work. 

The term is based on research showing that people generally underestimate the amount of work needed to put in, in order to make self-improving change, so when those goals meet reality, they often lead to false hope.

Countless studies, including one published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1988, by J. C. Norcross and D. J. Vangarelli, has shown that up to 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first two weeks. Clearly, these resolutions are not effective, and can ultimately lead to more stress and anxiety. 

“To me, New Year’s resolutions are odd because why do people feel the need to change their life, just because it’s a new year?” Tamalpais High School junior Zoey Murdock said. “I feel like they can be unhealthy and put pressure on people.”

In an article published by The Guardian, Vishvapani Blomfield writes, “vague resolutions such as ‘get fit’, ‘lose weight’ or ‘stop wasting so much time’ often conceal a deeper self-criticism that undermines our intentions.” 

Blomfield went on to explain that smaller, measurable goals can be effective, but only when you consider why you want to make the change.

“I don’t set resolutions because I know I won’t stick with them and I’d rather let my life be fluid and not stuck to certain goals,” Tam junior Skye Guyot said. 

Guyot believes that people should make choices that they know will benefit themselves; if you’re the type to stress over goals, stay away from making resolutions. But, if you enjoy following a new aim to better yourself, creating a plan for those choices might be helpful. 

For example, you could follow the SMART goal plan, which means creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. These goals are designed to be realistic, and because you can measure your progress, you can tell whether you will reach your goal or not.

New Year’s resolutions are not necessary for a healthy, balanced lifestyle, especially considering we live in an area with a high concentration of motivated, determined individuals. Obviously making decisions that will benefit yourself in the long run isn’t a bad idea, but setting sky high goals that you need to stick to for a whole year can do more harm than good.

Instead of solely focusing on what you want to change about yourself, it’s important to recognize everything that makes you, you.