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Why You Shouldn’t Set New Year’s Resolutions

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New year, new me, same old story. On January 1, most of us make new year’s resolutions every year without fail. However, every year they do fail – sometimes within just a few days of the year starting.

According to a US News & World report, 80 percent of us break our new year’s resolutions by mid-February, and yet we continue to keep making them – why?

Maybe then, this year, it’s time to stop making new year’s resolutions and avoid the inevitable disappointment.

My experience with new year’s resolutions

In my second year at university, I made the resolution to go to the gym five times a week and to also ban myself from chocolate (I’d eaten way too much chocolate over the Christmas break).

The result? Mid-January, I was lying on the sofa in my gym kit, devouring an extra-large Cadbury’s chocolate bar, while explaining to my housemates that I can’t possibly go to the gym because it’s dark outside.

This was, well and truly, a failed new year’s resolution. At least now I know why it failed…

Resolutions are often unrealistic

First of all, the resolutions we make are often completely unrealistic, or just way too general.

Whether your resolution is to be healthier, keep on top of your assignments, become vegan, quit smoking or go to all of your lectures, simply resolving to do these things will not make them happen.

Real change is made by making small step by step changes, which are gradual and only make a difference over a long period of time. Basically, you need a plan you’re actually going to be able to stick to.

For example, my pledge to go to the gym five times a week when I previously wasn’t going at all was never going to work, because it was too much too quickly.  A much more achievable goal would’ve been to go twice a week to start with and then build it up over time.

The all or nothing approach

The other thing about new year’s resolutions is they are often viewed with an ‘all or nothing’ approach. When I slipped up, for example, by eating a bit of chocolate when I’d said I wouldn’t, I just thought ‘what’s the point in carrying on with this now?’.

Instead what I should have done is acknowledged the setback but resolved to keep going with my resolution, but we rarely take such a considered approach to new year’s resolutions.

Why are we so impatient?

In a world where we can get everything almost instantly (here’s looking at you Amazon Prime) we tend to feel unmotivated when we don’t see an immediate change.

We often nonchalantly make New Year’s resolutions, envisaging this perfect future version of ourselves that we can will into existence simply by making these promises.

In the first week we throw ourselves into our resolutions, without realising this motivation we feel will most likely inevitably dwindle as real life gets in the way.

Realising that change takes time and a lot of effort

Making resolutions is all well and good until we start to do them and realise that proper change takes time and a great deal of effort.

So, you want to go to the gym more? Great, but do you still want to go on a rainy Tuesday evening in the middle of January while all your friends are sat next to the TV binging Netflix? Probably not.

If you haven’t set out a plan, it’s very easy to convince yourself not to do something… which is exactly what I did with the gym, and what many other students do with their resolutions.

So how can you change your life?

To make real change, the best thing I’ve found you can do is to try a completely new approach.

Reflect on the previous year’s experiences and establish what you liked and didn’t like about the choices you make. Then just try to improve on them this year!

If you do want to carry on with New Year’s resolutions, in my opinion, making small realistic changes to your life is definitely the way to go.

While I’ve still not managed (even four years later) to go to the gym five times a week, I definitely go a lot more than I did when I made that resolution in second year – and giving up chocolate was a silly idea anyway!

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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