Should you make a New Years resolution?

The Southerner

New Year’s resolutions improve quality of life for the coming year

By: Parker Killenberg

New Year’s resolutions are all about resolving to change an undesired aspect of your life for the upcoming months and, whether sustained for the whole year or ceased after one week,  can guide your life toward a better you.

While New Year’s resolutions run the gamut from exercising to sleeping, they generally improve your quality of life. In fact, New Year’s resolutions can help to save your life. Along with pledging to eat kale, a common New Year’s resolution is attending primary care appointments that have been skipped in years past. While this seems like a simple feat, this small change can prove preventative to cancer previously undetected. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), primary care appointments can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. The CDC also noted that through screenings and other treatments you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life.

According to Statistic Brain, out of the 41% of Americans that usually fulfill their New Year’s resolutions, 21.4% vow to lose weight. While many people throw away their money on gym memberships and Weight Watcher plans only to give in after a couple of months, even a portion of the year spent actively greatly improves  a person’s health and outweighs the cost of yearly memberships. Researchers at Wayne University School of Medicine found that sedentary rats had neurological changes and could lead to dangerous side effects. Some of the sedentary rats’ neurons had extra branches which could lead to an overstimulated nervous system. Exercise not only improves a person’s physical health, but it is beneficial for  mental health as well. Even exercising for a month out of the year instead of staying sedentary can improve your health and lead to a better life moving forward.

New Year’s resolutions not only start the year off on a healthier foot in terms of bodily exercise, they have positive mental side effects as well. Having positive aspirations for the year ahead can increase productivity and help reorganize your life and set you into the right direction for coming months, enough if you don’t stick to a perfect regimen for the whole year as planned. Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina found that “positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.”

You may have an opinion about what New Year’s resolutions have to be, but, instead of opting for a classic New Year’s resolution, you can choose to alter your life by making a change you wouldn’t normally make like taking a year off of work or changing jobs. Consider making small monthly resolutions instead of multiple year-long challenges. You can make a pact to be happier or simply do little things throughout the week to pamper yourself. Setting goals is important and adjusting your New Year’s resolution to fit your lifestyle will make it stick.

While weight loss or healthy lifestyle changes have topped the list in the past, a Marist Institute of Public Opinion poll found recently that this year the most common New Year’s resolution is to be a better person. Dr. Stephen Graef, a sports psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that the secret to sticking with your New Year’s resolution is to be honest with yourself and set more realistic goals. “We might really try to shoot for the moon too quickly and that doesn’t work out,” Graef said. “And if we try to do all of those, we don’t have the mental and physical resources to be able to accomplish that.” Being an overall better person is a broad goal to make and can easily be forgotten after one malicious thought. Realistic resolutions, such as writing down something nice about someone every other day, are more easily kept and target more specific areas in need of improvement to greater positively affect the coming twelve months.

Making a New Year’s resolution improves your mental and physical health for the next year. Even if you don’t plan on keeping your resolution for the next twelve months, even trying to achieve your goals can benefit your life. While a classic New Year’s resolution may not be your cup of tea, trying alternative methods for improvement can kick start the year and be kept for months to come.  


New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time and money

By Max Nevins

As the second month of 2017 begins, many people are already dropping their New Year’s resolutions. While the turn of the year can inspire change and improvement, only a small percentage of people actually carry through with their resolutions.

A study by Statistics Brain Research showed that only 58.4 percent of people who made New Year’s Resolutions maintained them through the first month while only 44.8 percent maintained them through the first six months, which shows that over half of New Year’s resolutions are not turned into long term goals. In addition to people not carrying through with their resolutions, most felt that they did not fulfill their goal.

Only 9.2 percent felt that they were successful in accomplishing their resolution goals while 48.4 percent felt they had infrequent success. An outstanding 42.4 percent felt that they failed in achieving their New Year’s resolutions each year. As the studies suggest, most New Year’s resolutions fail.

These statistics show that New Year’s Resolutions quickly end and almost never achieve full success. These trends can be attributed to the excitement of the new year and the thought of creating new goals.

The first few weeks of the resolution kick off with a splurge of motivation. Inspired by countless advertisements and commercials, people easily hop onto the New Year’s bandwagon. Plans of eating healthy, getting fit, and spending less money are put into place. However, it is soon discovered that these plans were made in vain.

People sign up for gym memberships, dieting plans, and buy expensive organic foods and new workout equipment. While these new investments seem promising, they are rarely used. People will consistently use their gym membership for a month or two and then shift to infrequent visits to the gym only a few times a month. Similarly, after a few weeks of healthy eating, many will take a “cheat day” which leads to multiple “cheat days” and in short time old eating habits are quickly resumed.

Not only are these new investments not used, but they are also costly. Gym memberships can pile up to an annual cost of 700 dollars according to Statistic Brain Research, and organic foods on average are 47 percent more than non-organic foods according to Consumer Reports.  

In this way, New Year’s Resolutions do the opposite of their original purpose. This leads many to go back to their ordinary diet and exercise regimen and their new investments prove to be money down the drain. By spending large amounts of money only to end up picking up old habits, people will find that New Year’s Resolutions can create negative effects including financial and health setbacks.

New Year’s Resolutions give people a time to make goals in a time of excitement. This leads people to get caught up in the hubbub and then abandon their goals.

New Year’s Resolutions create a stressful environment where people feel pressured into following their goals. They feel as though they have to maintain and achieve a certain standard, which is sometimes unrealistic. People will try to adhere to certain strict rules that are too far a jump from their usual routines. This has caused the New Year to be a time of unfulfilled promises.

Although goals and changes are necessary and admirable, the New Year is not a time to make plans for drastic life modifications. By creating a goal to strictly follow from the beginning of the year, you cause yourself unnecessary pressure and eventual disappointment. Instead of creating a new New Year’s resolution each year, think about gradual changes that you can make throughout the year to achieve your goals without needing the New Year to be your kickstart to change.