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Friday, May 17, 2024

Rethinking New Year’s resolutions

How to approach the new year thoughtfully and with self-compassion




With the start of a new year, it’s easy to feel pressure to set an overly ambitious goal, whether it be finally getting that six-pack or trying harder to get that elusive A in ochem. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to exercise more or improve your academic performance, putting pressure on yourself to achieve perhaps unreasonable goals will only create added stress rather than promote healthy, long-term habits. 

If you’ve never worked out before, maybe try going to the gym three times a week rather than every day. And if one week you only end up making it to the ARC twice, that’s okay. Partially meeting your goals isn’t failing, and you’re still getting stronger in the process. 

Goals can also be fluid — they don’t have to stay the same all year. If something unexpected comes up and you can no longer go on that hike you were looking forward to or cook that healthy recipe you’d been hoping to try, it’s okay to change your plans to ensure that goals that should be improving your life aren’t doing the opposite.

Additionally, New Year’s resolutions often revolve around external achievements such as learning new skills, traveling or getting a new job. Sometimes what we need, however, is not to focus on what we can physically do but rather carve out time to think about what would make us happiest. Setting goals that focus on making internal changes rather than external ones might be better for you and your mental health.

A better year is not necessarily one where you can check off a list of your accomplishments. It might just be one where you were happier because you found time to meditate, took more walks outdoors or sang really loudly in the car on the way home. Even if there’s no way to externally show what you accomplished, as long as you’re better off that’s what matters. 

By 2024, we won’t magically have found the time to do everything we’ve always wanted, even if we complete all of our resolutions. We need to accept where we are and realize that each year that brings us a little more joy and fulfillment is a step toward self-improvement. 

If resolutions are helpful to you, make them, and if they’re not, don’t. And whether it’s the new year or not, try to set goals that will make you happy. They don’t have to be long-term or drastic as long as you feel they will somehow improve your everyday life. As one Editorial Board member put it: “One day at a time.”


Written by: The Editorial Board