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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

It may be time to ditch your New Year’s resolutions

If you find New Year’s resolutions stressful, try setting goals in a different way 


By CLAIRE SCHAD — cfschad@ucdavis.edu

Eat healthier, lose weight, minimize your screen time — these are all goals that tend to be shoved in our faces sometime in late December or early January. Whether it is through TV commercials, social media posts or annoying spam emails, people are obsessed with the idea that the new year must be a time of change and intense self-betterment.

While I understand the benefit of setting goals and wanting to make this year better than the last, too often these resolutions only serve to create more stress heading into the new year.

So how should we combat this? Should we stop crafting new year’s resolutions altogether? Should we set more modest goals? For me, the answers to these questions are still unclear and something that I struggle with. However, one thing I have found to be helpful is taking off the pressure that Jan. 1 is the day that everything must shift. 

After all, we all have lives, many of which don’t heavily revolve around the first of the year. As a college student, I find it easier to break up my year with the academic schedule and view each quarter as a time for new opportunities and experiences. 

However, this idea isn’t only useful for those of us involved in academics. Maybe you’re a working professional that schedules your year around your annual family vacation, or a parent whose child’s schedule largely dictates your life or maybe your life changes with the seasons. Whatever the case may be, for a lot of us, the Jan. 1 deadline is largely arbitrary.

So if New Year’s resolutions tend to add to the stress of the season and make you anxious, try setting your goals separate from any unnatural schedule. If you do want to set some goals in the new year, however, consider making smaller resolutions that are less daunting. Maybe this looks like setting more time aside for self-care this quarter or trying a few new recipes that look exciting to you this month. One of the common reasons that New Year’s resolutions add stress is that they are too drastic and its easy to fail to achieve them.

Try adding new things to your life that spark joy, but don’t force yourself to do something a set number of times. Focus on adding things that enrich your life, not cutting out or fixing things that you feel are “bad.” If you leave out the frequency parameters from your goals, you may feel more inclined to achieve them because you actually want to rather than because you have a fear of failing.    

No matter how hard you try, you won’t be a different person on Jan. 1, so don’t expect yourself to be able to instantly flip a switch and adopt a new lifestyle. Free yourself from the unrealistic goals society tells us we need to set and don’t feel bad doing it. 

We have all been through a lot in the past few years and we must give ourselves grace. If New year’s resolutions cause you stress, ditch them. Find new, better ways to craft goals that add to your life, focusing on joy, not restriction. 


Written by: Claire Schad — cfschad@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.