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EDITORIAL: Replace resolutions with real, meaningful change

'A pressure-filled promise, driven by clever marketing campaigns and keeping up with the Jones's all synched to the same stopwatch, is the opposite of fulfilling our own goals and dreams.'
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It's that time of year again, when it seems like the whole world is making promises to do things differently, exercise regularly, eat healthy, live mindfully.

The challenge with New Year's resolutions is so few people stick to them, but not for the reasons you'd think.

A U.S. Finder survey from 2020 found that 74 per cent of adults said they were determined to make a resolution stick in 2021 — our minds and hearts certainly start out in the right place.

A Canadian Ipsos Reid poll from December of 2021 shows 48 per cent of respondents planned to make a physical health-related resolution, while 41 per cent planned to make one about their finances. Mental health, family life, work/career, and learning a new skill or hobby also topped the list.

But somewhere not long into the future, as is evidenced by how traffic at a busy gym thins drastically as January turns to February, the promises we make to ourselves fade almost as quickly as we plan to commit to them.

A scan of online studies over the past several years shows many have found nearly 80 per cent of people who make New Year's resolutions abandon them by mid-February.

Willpower is one of our favourite excuses for not sticking to our goals. The next, over the past couple of years, has been COVID, according to research.

Maybe, instead of watching our goals drop off, one by one, it's time to let the whole notion of New Year's resolutions fall away.

Perhaps the 200-or-more-year-old tradition that Jan. 1 represents a fresh start for us all — that the entire planet is somehow ready for change at the same time — is an antiquated idea we can tuck right back in the past.

And, rather than jumping on the bandwagon, we should all just hop off, and each decide for ourselves when is the most opportune time to reach our full potential.

In an ever-more-inclusive world, this should be more the message. A pressure-filled promise, driven by clever marketing campaigns and keeping up with the Jones's all synched to the same stopwatch, is the opposite of fulfilling our own goals and dreams.

The real reasons we abandon resolutions so quickly each New Year, according to countless life coaches and psychologists in untold blogs and articles, is we tackle the mountain, instead of the molehills; we rush into the sprint, instead of planning for the marathon.

Real, meaningful change comes from patience, persistence, tenacity, and often timing, according to the experts.

Jan. 1 is no magic day, by any stretch. It's a day like any other. The real trick is to set ourselves up to achieve and then celebrate many small victories, on the days when we feel we can, so when it comes to the big ones, we already have the confidence and practice to get it done.

Abandon the idea that January is your month, because maybe yours will be March, or May, or next November.

The idea that this year will be better, that we will be better, too, is one we can hang onto, if we just walk forward through 2022 with baby steps from one attainable goal to the next.

Editorials are the consensus view of the St. Albert Gazette’s editorial board.