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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Do New Year’s resolutions actually work?

Davis students offer their perspectives on the effectiveness of the tradition

By CLARA FISCHER — arts@theaggie.org

As a new year dawns before us, there is one certainty it brings with it — the onset of a slew of resolutions, made in good faith by people seeking to better some aspect of their life.      

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions dates back to Babylonian times and has evolved from the making of religious promises to a secular practice of self-improvement.

This tradition seems harmless enough, and it can even be argued that there is some benefit to a majority of the population seeking to improve something about themselves.

However, statistics have shown that only 25% of those who make resolutions actually stick to them after 30 days, and a mere 8% of those who declare resolutions actually end up accomplishing them. 

“I’ve found that when I attempted to make New Year’s resolutions, I’d just be disappointed that I hadn’t done them,” said Elizabeth Woodhall, a second-year English and psychology double major, via Facebook Messenger. 

So how do people get started on (and more importantly, stay committed to) this journey of self-improvement?

“There needs to be some other motivating factor behind a change in your lifestyle,” said Kiara Kunnes, a third-year international relations major. “People are able to make changes without that, but the most successful lasting transformations do have an underlying cause.”

She may be right — New Year’s resolutions are notoriously easy to give up on. According to The New York Times, resolutions tend to fall through due to their being too vague, being made for the wrong reasons (i.e. what society wants the resolution-maker to do rather than what the individual themselves wants to do) or being too unrealistic. 

But can there really be harm in setting a positive goal for yourself with the onset of a fresh, new year? Connie Wang, a second-year political science major, doesn’t think so.

“I think New Year’s resolutions let people reflect on any improvements they want to see in their life, which is always good,” Wang said.

While it may be true that resolutions provide a convenient opportunity for many to reflect on what in their lives may need improvement, the general consensus seems to be that long-lasting change is not likely to come from them.

  “I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions,” Kunnes said. “I don’t see a need to — I’m generally a person that will make a change at the moment that I want to make it.”

Reagan Campbell, a second-year English major, had a different take on the matter. 

“Overall, I believe that New Year’s resolutions can start your year off on a positive note — however, it’s more about whether or not you have the willpower to actually follow through with them,” Campbell said.

Her viewpoint succinctly summarizes it: Anyone can make a resolution, but it will only be beneficial to those who actually set realistic goals and are willing to put in the necessary work to see them through. 

That being said, even just setting a goal for yourself can be considered a win, and after these past two years, every victory (however large or small) deserves to be celebrated. 

Written by: Clara Fischer — arts@theaggie.org

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