You know it's the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve when your inbox and Facebook feeds fill up with promotions and calls to action promising to help you transform yourself into a "new you" come January 1. The dawn of a new year is apparently supposed to coincide with the launch of a new version of yourself — one who, according to commercials and sponsored posts and celebrity endorsements, does juice cleanses and exercises seven days a week and wears a smaller size. And we're buying it — in a survey of 822 Bustle readers, 41 percent said that their New Year's resolution was to lose weight or exercise more.
In fact, our reader survey revealed all sorts of tricky attitudes towards New Year's resolutions — what they are about, how they make us feel, and the resolutions we would make for our loved ones versus the ones we make personally. It seems that while we want the people we care about to find happiness and peace, more often than not, that isn't the primary goal we set for ourselves.
But in 2017, Bustle is advocating for a resolution revolution. Instead of asking ourselves to take up less space in the new year, we're challenging our readers to take up more — to affect change, to make our voices heard, to have a positive influence on the lives of others, to grow our confidence and our impact rather than shrink our bodies. Because our attitudes towards New Year's resolutions could stand to change, as evidenced by the survey results below.
Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app.
Goal setting can up your happiness quotient, but studies show that weight loss goals in particular are often set because people want to fit prevailing beauty standards or be more attractive to potential mates (or, to be attractive to mates who buy into prevailing beauty standards, really).
People who didn't make resolutions felt strongly about that choice, with one saying "I don't make New Year's resolutions, because when I set a goal I start working towards it the moment I think of it. I don't wait for New Year's."
Going against the expectation that New Year's resolutions only last a couple of weeks, a quarter of respondents said they stick to their goals for eternity — impressive when a week of cutting caffeine can feel like an eternity.
While setting achievable goals can boost happiness, and taking care of your body can improve longevity, stress, energy, and overall health, plenty of comments indicated that exercise goals were mostly made in service of meeting weight loss goals. "I want to be healthy and look good," said one woman. "I can always lose more weight!" said another. "I'm overweight and very depressed about it," said one survey taker, while another hit the nail on the head by saying her resolution was in response to "media influence on body image and body beauty standards."
So, are resolutions to "get fit" and "be healthy" just code for "I want to lose weight"? More on that here.
Setting attainable, specific goals and setting out to achieve them can boost happiness. Giving into self doubt and media pressure, not so much. "I'm unhappy with my body, but happy with most other things," said one woman.
While plenty of people said resolutions make them feel determined or optimistic, others found resolution season to be a breeding ground for self doubt. "They do not contribute to my emotional stability," said one woman.
This begs the question — does your family care what your body looks like?
Only two respondents said they would want their best friend to resolve to lose weight. Dozens said they wanted their BFF to "find things to make yourself happy," or some variation thereof — "Slay girl, slay."
Something to think about in the days leading up to January 1. What resolution would our best friends make for us?
For 21 empowering resolutions (that have absolutely nothing to do with getting skinny) click here.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.