Mindset Determines Success of New Year’s Resolutions

Nyela Walker, Op-Ed Editor

It is January 1. Senior Tony Gelona rolled out of bed at 2 p.m., and weeks later he realized he forgot to do one of his three resolutions: floss his teeth daily. At the end of each year, people reflect on what went wrong and make a list of resolutions for the following year even though they will barely make it to the second month, let alone the first day since more than half of it is already gone. What if instead of reflecting on what did not happen, they focused on what did and worked from there. With the mindset of setting intentional habits, people’s purposes to create an effective impact will be much greater than the mindset of setting resolutions and goals.

Cartoon by Naomi Scully-Bristol.

Resolutions are often formed in the mindset that the change will somehow happen. However, a goal without a plan is just a thought that will never come to fruition. Making a goal of less screen time has become a concept to many, but without setting a plan it will not actually happen. If there is an intention to fill the extra time with family or new hobbies, this will feel more like a healthy substitution and not be something to feel discouraged about. Resolutions, ironically, are made to be an addition to human lives, but habits are the only ones able to become an integral part of daily lives. You already have a lot going on; you do not need to feel burdened with more tasks.

Habits need to have a safe space to grow healthy, and “a New Year’s Resolution,” says AP Psychology teacher Mr. Daniel Healy, “is setting a finite goal for yourself, and setting a hard goal really sets you up for failure.” 

Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert says that the reason resolutions fail is that “you aren’t framing them positively” (Abadi). Say that one of your bad habits is spending money. What if instead of saying “I will stop spending money unnecessarily” you say “I will create things when given the opportunity.” The act of saying “stop” will challenge you to spend money. Additionally, if you are out shopping and remember you said you would stop spending money, you are most likely going to spend it since you are in a vulnerable state and it is “only just this once.” 

A poll of 62 Woodson students on January 28 showed that 45% have already stopped keeping to their New Year’s Resolution. Image by Naomi Scully-Bristol.

However, if you framed your resolution differently to form a habit, you most likely would not have even been in the position to spend money. Furthermore, by saying that you will be creative instead of spending money, you will barely recognize that you have stopped spending money. Mr. Healy believes that themes for the New Year like “friendship or reading” are achievable because “you cannot possibly fail unless you don’t think about it at all.”

Some New Year’s Resolutions have a high standard and stretch you thin. Once you have reached your goal, you stop almost immediately since the goal was reached. When you have a habit, you think: “What can I do to improve it.” For example, if a person has a habit of reading four books each month, once they reach that they might feel they can read more and begin to push themselves. Now if a resolution is said to read four books, they are almost forcing themselves and may feel drained and want to stop the goal altogether. The mindset of a goal of four books is limited while the habit allows space for more, or less, if need be.

Progress is a process that needs time for preparation and without it, unrealistic resolutions are bound to fail.

(Abadi, Mark. “A psychotherapist says there are 3 common reasons so many people’s New Year’s resolutions end in failure.” Business Insider, 1 Jan. 2021, www.businessinsider.com/new-years-resolutions-failure-advice-jonathan-alpert-2018-12. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021. )