New Year's resolutions: source of motivation or pressure?

Katy Leverett weighs up whether New Year's resolutions motivate us or put us under unnecessary pressure

Article Thumbnail

Image Credit: Travel Photographer via negativespace

The period in between Christmas and New Year is a strange time. Still full on turkey from Christmas Day and completely unaware of what day of the week it actually is, as the New Year rolls in we begin to reflect on the year we’ve had and what we want next year to bring. This, without fail, includes the consideration of a New Year’s resolution. By the time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve and the next year is hailed in, many people have given themselves a New Year’s resolution to complete.

For the first week, we all keep our resolutions to near perfection, but as the weeks roll on, the progress slows until the resolution is forgotten and we’re back to our normal routines. According to YouGov, only a quarter of people who made resolutions in 2020 managed to keep all of them for the whole year. It is predicted that a fifth of British people have made resolutions for 2022 and most likely these resolutions will meet the same fate as those made in 2020. But why?

Every year I have the same New Year’s Resolution: to start running and get fit. Every year I buy a new pair of leggings and a fleece. Every year I download the ‘Couch to 5k’ app. But every year, without fail, I have started running mid-January, and finished the endeavour by the beginning of February. The fleece and leggings collect dust at the back of my wardrobe with the other discarded running clothes from the years before, and the ‘Couch to 5k’ app doesn’t progress any further than week three or four. To be honest, it is quite depressing to think about all the money I’ve unnecessarily spent over the years! But this year, I’ve realised I’ve been going about it all wrong.

By pressuring myself with new sports clothes and confining my goal into a New Year’s resolution, I have set myself up to fail for countless years. Ultimately, the worst time to start running for someone like me, who appreciates nothing more than curling up with a good book under a blanket at this time of year, is January, one of the coldest and bleakest months of the year. Forcing myself out of bed on a cold icy morning is hard enough without the added pressure of ‘going for a run’ - not something I do on a regular basis!

To put it simply, I’ve been starting my New Year’s resolution at the wrong time of year.

Fundamentally, resolutions shouldn’t just be made at New Year. If we want to make a change in our lives then we shouldn’t confine ourselves to that small period of time between Christmas and New Year to decide whether we’re going to do it or not. Ultimately, it’s the turkey talking. New Year’s resolutions should be something that can be made whenever, about whatever, without the pressure of the ‘New Year, New Me’ stereotype. Pressuring ourselves into doing something that could be challenging perhaps at a time we don’t want to shouldn't be accepted or expected.

So, are New Year’s resolutions motivating or just too much pressure pressurising? In essence, they can be both. By confining ourselves to the ‘New Year, New Me’ standard, we pressure ourselves into a change that we may not be truly ready or willing to make.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all resolutions end in failure. Many resolutions do succeed. However, perhaps we should not all confine all the changes we want to make in our lives to a New Year’s resolution, but learn to accept that it is something we can implement at any time of the year when we are ready. It should be something that we can drop for a while without being seen as a failure. By seeing New Year’s resolutions this way, they can definitely become more inspiring.

Latest in Comment