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The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Setting New Year’s resolutions might be harmful for you

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Photo by Naisha Nallakula/ UCSD Guardian

It’s Dec. 1. Like clockwork, Spotify Wrapped, BeReal Recap, and Snapchat Memories start playing and open the door for deep self-reflection. Everyone finds themselves down this rabbit hole of looking back on the year that has passed to see if they achieved their New Year’s resolutions. 

“Did I go to the gym everyday? Did I practice time management and not procrastinate on any assignments like I said I would? Did I pursue crocheting after buying yards of yarn at Michaels?” 

Typically, the outcome falls shorter than we anticipated on Jan. 1. However, instead of giving ourselves some credit and focusing on the growth we’ve accomplished, we criticize ourselves for not checking off every box on our list of resolutions. 

Every year, the idea of achieving New Year’s resolutions becomes more and more toxic. Resilience Lab writes, “We face a lot of external pressure from those around us … Setting New Year’s resolutions adds to the pressure we already put on ourselves.” Along with the external pressure, New Year’s resolutions fail for many other reasons. One of the main reasons they fail is because of false hope syndrome. Nature Journal states that false hope syndrome “results from inadequate assessments of the arduousness of self-change, unrealistic goal-setting, and poor coping skills.” We overestimate how much we can change our lifestyle and therefore immediately fall short of our expectations. This can bring down our self-confidence, which leads to damaged self-esteem and a lack of motivation. At the end of the year, I decided that I needed to reach all of my goals next year, especially because I fell short this year. But instead of growing from last year’s mistakes of overachieving, I find myself stuck in this toxic cycle of attempting to reach unattainable standards. 

Rather than bettering the quality of your life, setting unrealistic goals for the new year can have many other consequences. It can lead to anxiety, issues with self-image, and even depression. Therefore, instead of setting unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, there are other ways you can create new habits. 

Starting Small

It’s important to start by setting small goals. Instead of saying, “I’m going to read 50 books this year,” you can start smaller by saying that you’re going to read for 1 hour a day. This way, you can build up to reading for longer periods of time rather than overloading yourself on the first day. 

Working on One Resolution at a Time

It’s important to divide up your goals into smaller tasks to make sure they don’t become daunting. Rather than trying to work on every goal at the same time, tackling one goal a week can make it easier to turn it into a habit. As you get used to practicing the first resolution every day, you can add on more you want to implement into your daily routine.

For example, if the resolutions are to work out every day, make your bed every morning, and manage your time better, then tackling the first resolution on the first week, and then slowly adding a new resolution every week might make it easier to adapt to them.

Practicing Your Resolutions in Your Daily Routine

Creating a daily schedule leads to structure and helps you build a routine. You can even create just a note in the notes app that has your entire day slotted into time slots. Working your resolutions into your daily routine makes you accustomed to the new habits. You will get used to having the new habit in your daily routine and will subconsciously do it daily. 

In general, adopting new habits is very crucial in maintaining an active lifestyle. However, it is important to do this in a healthy manner. Finding the “happy medium” keeps you from taking on too much pressure and change at one time. It’s important to make sure your New Year’s resolutions don’t end up being counterproductive and harmful to your mental and physical health. So, the next time you start writing a list of everything you want to change in your life and calling it your “resolutions” for the new year, take a moment to think about how this practice may actually hurt you more than help you.

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About the Contributor
Naisha Nallakula, Staff Writer
Hi, I'm Naisha! I'm a first-year econ major and political science minor! When I'm not writing for the Guardian, I'm probably dancing or sleeping.
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  • S

    SabbaJan 17, 2024 at 9:13 am

    Very good article with good recommendations to try. I’m resetting goals every year in Jan.

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  • S

    SuryaJan 16, 2024 at 7:19 pm

    Very well articulated Naisha. Keep it up

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