Do New Year’s Resolutions Actually Work?

As you reflect on the past year, you can easily say that many accomplishments have been made. At the same time, however, there’s still progress to be made. And when the year is over, your mind immediately shifts to what you can improve on. You reach for that piece of paper to write down these ideas, but suddenly you question yourself. Is this really necessary?

Yes, New Year’s resolutions are here for my benefit

Once that goal has been written down, it’s a sign of willingness to change and grow. Although people don’t stick to all of their resolutions, the entire idea is to motivate oneself. It shows that someone still is optimistic and knows that there are still a few steps needed for improvement. 

The University of Scranton did a study about New Year’s Resolutions and followed 200 people over a two year period. It was found that compared to people who wanted to change but didn’t make a resolution, people who did make resolutions were 10 times more likely to make a positive change within six months. Although there aren’t many people who can stick to their goals, if their thoughts are put to paper, they are more willing to at least take action.

One counterpoint is that with resolutions, it’s hard to self-monitor and know if you are on track towards your goal. But, if multiple people group up to both achieve something, then it is easier to evaluate your progress. Predicting the future is impossible, but setting the stage for it is something within your capabilities. By just writing down your goals, you can re-prioritize activities and necessities. This helps with time management. You don’t have to worry about the future, just about the thing right in front of you. Additionally, if the resolution is too intimidating, it’ll be easier.

No, my New Year’s resolutions will just be forgotten by January 8th 

Many people become eager to put all their goals on a sheet of paper, but what ends up happening a lot is that they aren’t realistic. Resolutions are poorly planned out and accessed for risks. For example, maybe it’s a great goal to get in more exercise, but will you really go to the gym everyday for the rest of the year? The main point here is that the resolutions become too much of a commitment, where people slowly forget about it one at a time and find themselves in the same exact situation as they were the previous year, and the process repeats itself. 

The same University of Scranton study concluded that 23% of people quit these resolutions within the first week of the year. Only 19% stick to their goals for just two years. In other words, after a short while, people realize that they don’t have the time and means to check it off the list. If the resolution in theory should work, why wasn’t the person able to just fulfill it last year? 

Also, being committed to one thing probably means that something else has to be given up to make room. Some people just aren’t ready for that change in their lives. 

Anyways, the idea of New Year’s Resolutions may be appealing or a waste of time for different people. But it’s always good to be ready to improve.