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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

So you broke your New Year’s resolution — here’s how to start again

It’s not too late to build the life you vision-boarded


It’s February, which means the gym is empty again. Fridges, which on Jan. 3 were filled with leafy green vegetables and ginger shots, are now a deposit box for take-out containers. The beautiful 2024 planner you bought is empty and forgotten in a drawer. 

You’ve heard the stats: most New Year’s resolutions fall through fast. It’s no coincidence that many people seem to give up on their ambitious plans just as work or school pick up the pace post-holidays. While your wide-eyed dreaming for 2024 is admirable, a lot of us forget that the new year doesn’t mean an entirely new you. You likely still have a lot of the same responsibilities and bad habits you had in 2023. Setting goals without acknowledging those obstacles is setting yourself up for failure. 

Now, having tried and faltered, you have a chance to think critically about what made you stop cooking at home or waking up for your eight a.m. spin class (Hint: It’s at eight a.m.). Maybe your goals were too extreme and you just need to tone it down from “Read one book a week” to “Read one book per month.” Being realistic is key.

Or maybe you were too vague. “Be more organized?” What does that really mean? Also, putting a picture of a hot person on your Pinterest board does not count as a resolution. Outlining specific and tangible actions to take could make all the difference. It might give you a first step toward what seems like a distant aim. 

Worse still, maybe you made goals that, strictly speaking, you have no control over: get a boyfriend, get into Harvard Law School. These are fine aspirations, but pretending that everything is a matter of willpower will lead to feeling disappointed in yourself when things don’t work out. Going on a first date or reaching out for letters of recommendation — those are things you can actually take charge of. 

Beyond just setting better goals, starting again means you can think through what your goals mean to you. If you said you wanted to lose five pounds in two weeks, maybe you’re actually just interested in improving your health and you can find a better way to approach that purpose. This is your chance to make a resolution that’s really about you. Pick up Esperanto via Duolingo, call your mom once a week —- whatever moves you toward a better life. 

As a bonus, making resolutions in the off-season means you’re probably surrounded by less pressure to radically reinvent yourself. Fewer Instagram videos promising that this one workout will fix your life and improve your GPA. Fewer ads for yet another journal that, tragically, will not change your whole personality. And when you do miss the mark, you’re not shattering a promised vision of 2024, you’re just being human. You can pick up the piano practice again tomorrow. 

Or maybe you didn’t break your resolutions. Maybe you made it out of Dry January, well, dry. Or your thirty-day no-texting-that-guy challenge was a success (We’re so proud of you). Regardless, continuing to set and work toward goals can be a useful tool to make sure you’re living a life that is fulfilling and sustainable. It’s not a one-and-done deal — you can do it again next month! And if having a goal each month sounds exhausting, find flexible resolutions that you can actually see yourself doing and enjoying in the long term, not a month-long experiment in tortuous self-will. 

Here’s the other thing, and we hope this is obvious: You deserve to be happy now. No matter what bad habits you harbor, you’re still deserving of respect. And even if you aren’t currently a knitting virtuoso like you had hoped in January, you can have fun failing and trying again. As you plan for great things ahead, take time to be grateful for the little moments that happen on the way. That way, you’re not just building toward a life you’ll be content with, but enjoying the whole ride. 

Your thirty-day challenge might have fallen through, but there’s a great time to start again: now. There are a thousand opportunities to set a new goal: the first of the month, a three-day weekend, Tuesday. Really, any time works. How about now? The Editorial Board has some journaling prompts to help you identify your objectives and obstacles, and be thoughtful about how to approach both. Happy goal-setting!


  1. What are you most hopeful and excited about in the near future?
  2. What is something you’ve been putting off, but want to do?
  3. When you think about where you want to be in five years, what values do you want your life to reflect?
  4. What things often get in the way when you try to develop a new habit or skill?
  5. How can you manage stress or challenges as you move toward a new goal?

Written by: The Editorial Board


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