It’s that time of year when people will start asking what everyone’s New Year’s resolution is. But I won’t be buying into that convention. When I get this question, I’m going to respond that I don’t have one. New Year's resolutions haven't done much good for me, and I think they should be totally optional.
"New Year’s resolutions can actually set you up for disappointment," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. "If you make a resolution and aren’t able to follow through with it, you may end up beating yourself up and feeling worse about yourself. It’s best to set goals for yourself that are small and manageable." And you can set these goals all year round. You don't have to set one gigantic, nearly-impossible-to-achieve goal once a year.
New Year's Eve should be a time to celebrate everything that's been good about the previous year, and resolutions often instead leave us feeling ashamed of where we are. It's important to improve ourselves, but most of us are already hard enough on ourselves.
Here’s why I’m not making a New Year’s resolution — and don’t think anyone should feel obligated to, no matter how many times they get asked about it.
1. It Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself
To identify how you could improve, you have to first figure out what you don’t like about yourself. And who needs to find more ways they're supposedly not good enough?
2. It Starts The Year Off On A Negative Note
Because they force you to think about your shortcomings, New Year’s resolutions start your year off on a bad note. I’d rather watch the ball drop while celebrating all the great things about my life than finding flaw with it.
3. It Sets You Up For Failure
Only eight percent of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions. So, when you make one, chances are you’ll end up disappointing yourself. Better to set realistic goals you can actually meet than grandiose ones you’ll inevitably fall short of.
4. It’s Often Body-Shaming
The most typical New Year’s resolutions you hear about involve either dieting or exercise, reflecting the ridiculous cultural belief that the less you weigh, the better. If we really want to feel better about our bodies, a better goal would be to accept ourselves exactly as we are. That way, we’d have self-esteem that’s not dependent on the success of some diet or exercise regime.
5. It’s Often Self-Punishing
Many New Year’s resolutions carry the implication that we’ve been bad and need to be better next year. But walking around feeling ashamed is not conducive to self-improvement. How about celebrating how good we’ve been and striving to be even better? That’s a happier place to start from, whether we succeed or not.
6. It’s Better To Set Goals Every Day
New Year’s resolutions provide an excuse not to work toward self-improvement all the time. What if we just worked hard toward our goals all year? That may not be as exciting, but it’s more realistic.
So, don’t feel like you need a New Year’s resolution just because everybody will be asking you about it. And if you do make one, don’t let it become another stick for your ego to beat you with.