“New Year, new you” is a famous saying that is often advertised as we approach the end of the year, but can we completely change ourselves in one year?
Are we setting ourselves up for failure when we set lofty New Year resolutions?
Although New Year resolutions are great in theory and can be healthy when they are realistic, we often overexert ourselves to reach lofty New Year resolutions and feel as though we have failed if we do not reach these goals by the end of the year. It is similar to chasing perfectionism.
New Year resolutions originated in the ancient Babylon times when Babylonians promised their gods repayment of their debt and borrowed objects such as farm tools. These promises were small and attainable.
In the present day, our New Year resolutions seem to grow bigger and bigger each year; when they, in reality, they should be small achievable goals. By setting New Year resolutions that are not attainable, we may be harming our mental health; here is why:
1) Eight Percent of Individuals Keep Their Resolutions
Even though it is a New Year, you will most likely remain the same, regardless of the New Year resolutions you put forth into the universe.
Research has shown that eight percent of individuals who set New Year’s resolutions keep with them.
Most individuals, who stray off track, usually do so within a couple of weeks. This statistic can commonly be seen in fitness gyms or workout studios.
Fitness studio or gym memberships skyrocket around the holidays, as many individuals want to lose weight in the New Year.
As a result, gyms are packed with people the entire month of January, but once February rolls around, the gyms quickly begin to clear out as many individuals fell off the bandwagon. Their New Year’s resolution to lose weight lasted only a couple of weeks.
2) Setting Unrealistic Goals Can Instill Self-Doubt
In reality, it is quite unrealistic to think that you can drop a bad habit that you have spent nearly a lifetime establishing.
Unrealistic New Year resolutions can trigger a sense of failure, self-doubt, unworthiness, and low-self esteem, especially when the individual works exceedingly hard to meet these goals.
Resolutions often take the place of action, and individuals often set the same resolution year and after, in hopes that the outcome may be better next year.
3) New Year Resolutions Are Often Framed Around Negativity
Common New Year resolutions are usually framed around changing something that individuals do not like about themselves.
These often include things such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or finding a suitable mate. “Losing weight” assumes that the individual is unhappy with their body.
Instead of trying to set a goal to lose weight, or worse, setting a goal to lose a certain number of pounds within a specific duration of time, the individual may be better off setting a more positive goal such as “eating healthier” or “learning how to cook.”
Framing New Year’s resolutions around negativity can create negative emotions, which are not only destructive but also are demotivating.
4) New Years Resolutions Are Focused On The Results And Not The Journey
Whether one is trying to lose a certain amount of weight, save a specific sum of money, run a set amount of miles, or dedicate a certain amount of hours to a new project within a particular duration of time, it is easy to become so focused on the results.
Individuals forget about the process that it takes to get there. Since many of these results are not met, individuals will most likely feel as though they have failed, creating a sense of negative emotions and defeat.
Instead of looking at the big picture, such as learning how to cook healthier meals, taking online courses in financial budgeting, enrolling in a weekly running group, or picking up more responsibility at work, individuals tend to focus on the numbers.
The journey itself and the lessons that are learned during this journey are success stories of their own.
5) New Years Resolutions Are Based Around One-Shot Or Else
The inherent message of New Year’s resolutions is that individuals have one chance to change or meet their goals this year, and if they fail, then they must wait a whole year to set a new resolution.
This can wreak havoc on self-esteem, leaving individuals feeling as if they have failed, and they are not worthy of a second chance.
In reality, setting realistic goals or breaking down big goals into digestible bite-sized pieces and allowing for failure to occur with the mindset of starting over when ready (regardless if it is a month or a week) is a more healthy way to approach change and development.
In today’s society, New Year’s resolutions can be detrimental to mental health because the pressure from the unrealistic goals that are not often met can give individuals an overwhelming sense of anxiety, self-doubt, and feelings of failure.
Instead, it may be wise to set open-ended realistic goals for the New Year or to set daily, weekly, or monthly goals without focusing on New Year’s resolutions.
AKUA is here to help!
If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health disorder or addiction, and have solid goals to seek help, AKUA is here for you!.
AKUA Mind & Body provides an integrative treatment approach with multiple levels of care. We specialize in trauma, depression, anxiety, behavioral, co-occurring and other mental health disorders.
Call our 24/7 admissions helpline at 833-258-2669 today!