Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions

5:56 PM

The prospect of a new year is exciting, invigorating. With a new year comes new opportunities. So in late December, you make resolutions. You ponder what your life could be, and this fantasy towers in comparison to how it feels right now. You make a promise, either privately or publicly, to be better in the new year. This is what I’m gonna do, you tell yourself, to make the new year great. These are my resolutions. 

Well, it’s a week into 2019. How are those resolutions holding up? 

By writing editor, April Owens

If they’re still going strong, good for you! If they’re not, that’s ok, too. 

It’s common for people to place unrealistic expectations on themselves when the new year rolls around. Self-improvement is highly sought-after, but it requires motivation. And motivation is a limited resource. The problem is that, for many, the new year holiday is the only motivation to make a change. It seems like a blank slate-- the only opportunity we have to reinvent ourselves.

Here’s the bad news (and the good news): You’re not automatically a brand new person on January 1st, and that motivation you had when making those resolutions is not guaranteed to last you through the year; it may soon wear off. 

The downfall of listing out actions or habits you want to pick up is that these types of resolutions are too specific. You may have promised yourself to constantly do said actions or habits to reach for a specific goal (e.g going on that diet, studying for x hours a day, etc). These types of resolutions are dangerous because they are not adaptable to life’s many unexpected happenings. These goals may seem perfect at one point in time, but keeping them up is nearly impossible. It’s simply too easy for everyday occurrences and fluctuating mental states to get in the way. What if you’re at a friend’s house and all they have to eat is junk food? What if you find yourself to burnt out to study late into the night? These resolutions are extremely prone to failure, which will only discourage you from trying to change; in fact, it may even push you back to your old ways. That’s why it’s rare for people to keep up a new year’s resolution throughout the entire year-- something always comes up. 

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until next year to change your life - you can start now!

Start by reevaluating the significance of the new year. What else does it mean besides the earth’s completion of a revolution around the sun? Not much, really. Self-improvement is a daily ordeal, not a yearly feat.

Second, try making principles, rather than resolutions. Principles form the foundation of belief systems, and if you create some that are in line with your personal goals, they may help you lead a more virtuous life. Principles are more flexible than resolutions because they are actionable regardless of the circumstances.

For example, the Kwanzaa holiday is based on 7 principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. These principles mean different things to each person, but they are based on the simple idea that we ought to interact with ourselves and the world around us in a more empathetic way. The seven-day celebration began in 1966 as a way to foster healing and growth among African-Americans. The principles behind Kwanzaa are so versatile that they can be incorporated into everyone’s’ lives, all year long. They can be written and rewritten by anyone.

Here are a few of my principles:


There are no “bad” experiences, only experiences to learn from. 

Use all available resources exhaustively.

Take care of the mind and body.

Ask for help instead of suffering in silence.

Produce quality work and share it with the world. 

Seek knowledge and understanding.

Be ready to fail. Switch methods, get feedback and try again. 

When in doubt, write it down. When not in doubt, write it down.

Laugh. 

Breathe.

I intend to use these principles as a compass. These phrases are snapshots of the philosophy I want to uphold not just in the new year, but for the rest of my life.

I challenge everyone to replace their resolutions with principles. Remind yourself of them each and every day by writing them down, posting them on your wall, or making them your lock screen. Test out the principles in different situations to see if they need to be revised. Keep adding onto them as you gain more wisdom and experience.
You shouldn’t rely on self-motivation to achieve your goals. Ditch your new year’s resolutions. You must change the way you think before you change your life. 

Happy 2019!

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