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New Year's resolutions are kind of outdated

Hannah Getahun   

New Year's resolutions are kind of outdated
  • New Year's resolutions are often seen as unattainable.
  • So should we ditch the annual tradition?

Creating a list of goals for New Year's Day is perhaps a tradition older than Jesus, but it might be time to retire the annual ritual.

For many Americans, goal setting in 2024 will consist of putting together a list of resolutions that revolve around finances, self-image, and health and wellness.

The Forbes Health 2024 resolution survey gives us a glimpse at what people wish to accomplish this year.

In a survey of 1,000 resolution makers, 48% of respondents said they wanted to improve their fitness, 38% of them said they wanted to improve finances, and 36% said they wanted to improve their mental health.

There is also a gendered aspect of resolutions, where, according to Forbes: "Women (64%) feel slightly more pressured to set a resolution than men (60%)."

I'm a part of that crowd: For years, I've kept a list of resolutions more exhaustive than an app's terms and conditions. Many of these resolutions fall in line with what others desire: achieving some monetary goal to buy something I really don't need or managing time I don't really have. Mixed in with these wishes are more practical goals for mental health and wellness.

But resolutions are often hard to keep. According to some estimates, up to 80% of resolutions are broken before the end of January. And that's with all the advice people have been touting for years — from tips on setting attainable goals to fixing yourself in bite-sized chunks.

So now, you probably haven't reached all your goals and are beating yourself over it. And now you're going into the next year hoping things will get better (and they never do).

And this negative feeling has started to affect the popularity of resolutions. Over the years, more people are generally ditching New Year's resolutions. A CBS News poll from 2021 found that resolution-making has plummeted. The reason? CBS posited that it may be due to the unpredictability of the pandemic and the chaos that has followed.

So, should you ditch your resolution list? Some people have. As The Atlantic put it last year, resolutions aren't the vibe. You can't be a disappointment if you never set impossible goals in the first place!

Instead, maybe we should start putting together year-end lists of everything we've accomplished over the year, The Atlantic suggests. That means your Instagram photo dump on December 31 showcasing your janky crochet projects, impromptu trips to the beach, or exciting nights on the town is a definite yes.

We can also go against the grain: Although they can be fun, dropping the usual goals that people opt for, like losing weight or becoming wealthy, may be a smart move.

As The Cut put it last year, focusing on intrinsic goals — or goals intended to make us happier — rather than extrinsic goals — goals made so we feel more accepted by society — can help with resolution-making.

So, for example, instead of telling yourself to eat bland salads because you want to look skinny for a photo that won't matter in 10 years, set a goal to eat more meals with loved ones.

Because, as Dr. Richard Ryan, professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University, told the outlet, oftentimes achieving an extrinsic result could mean a loss of the one thing that truly matters: joy.

"The evidence shows that when people reflectively and mindfully get in touch with their values, they drop the stuff like weight loss; they drop the stuff like 'make more money or more possessions,'" Ryan told The Cut.

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