Resolutions – Helpful or Horrid?

As January is almost over and the first month of the year comes to a close, it is natural to think back to the start of the new year and the promises you made -otherwise known as  resolutions. I wonder if you have stuck with your new year’s resolutions or failed them, if they have made a huge difference to your year so far or maybe, you don’t like the idea of even setting them and so, never have! The debate about resolutions has been going on for decades. Are they positive or negative, good or bad, helpful or horrid or maybe even a bit of both?

The ‘Helpful’ Side

New year’s resolutions have lots of helpful attributes. For example, they give our minds an opportunity to refocus, to stop stressing about what we have or haven’t done and instead, reflect on what we actually want to do or how we can solve our problems. Whether it’s something you plan to achieve – maybe going for a run every week, trying to get to bed earlier, get a new hobby or eat healthily or, something you want to stop doing – caring about things you can’t change, putting yourself down or even eating chocolates – resolutions are mainly for positive reasons and for me, resolutions give me clear goals for the wintery months ahead. In that case, resolutions could be a good and healthy thing to redirect our minds to focus on positive change and if progress can be charted, it can feel quite motivating!

The ‘Horrid’ Side

While resolutions can be positive, like most things there is a negative side. Mental Health Uk states that 90% of people start the year with new years resolutions but 25% of people end up giving up after only a few weeks. This brings me onto the infamous point when it comes to new years resolutions: ‘are you just setting yourself up to fail?’ Like any goal you set, if you think you are going to give up, it is most likely you will. However, even if you try your best, sometimes things just don’t work out.

Another ‘Horrid’ side of new year’s resolutions is the so called ‘shame-based motivation’. This is when people feel motivated to change things about themselves due to their insecurities. It is a ‘negative motivation’ that just makes you feel worse if you act on it.

It is difficult to break habits – especially if they are longstanding – yet with new year’s resolutions it seems we expect perfection right away! It is normal to have an off day but for most people when they skip a day that’s it. Rather than giving up, Mental Health UK states we should “practice self-compassion, acknowledge that it’s difficult to implement changes, and allow ourselves to continue fresh the next day.” In one way, resolutions are the opposite of this and can sometimes get quite toxic if taken too far or too seriously.

So, are new year’s resolutions really horrid or are they helpful? Personally, I think it depends on why you want this change in yourself. If it’s to ‘fit in’ or for the purpose of others, maybe it’s not the healthiest for you. However, if its because you really want to then I say go for it! And remember, just because you skipped a day here or found it hard there, doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

Sophie H. is a Holman Street Press: Correspondent