As we head into the midnight countdown that lets us finally say goodbye to the last year, one of the main things that’s floating through our heads to accomplish before the clock runs out on the complicated, difficult and deeply stressful year we’re putting behind us is putting together a list of personal resolutions. That to-do list of goals may include all of the things we didn’t get to do over the past 365 days or didn’t do to our full potential.
While drafting up resolutions for the new year may seem like the popular thing to do, it’s actually pretty unhealthy. Wondering why? These three experts share why New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time and what you should do instead if you’re looking to get fit, find love and just be kind to yourself.
Because they can’t always be measured
When we’re jotting down our list of resolutions, oftentimes, it can feel like a grocery list of promises that are almost impossible to measure or hold ourselves accountable for. We want to fall in love this year, but there’s no explanation of how we’re going to do that. Losing weight is a popular one, so we might make a resolution to hit the gym more (but not say how much more) or be healthy (without detailing what that actually means). Amy Gorin, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, New Jersey, advises that when it comes to health, you should make resolutions with actions attached to them.
“It’s best to make resolutions that can be measured — such as ‘I resolve to prep healthy meals at least three weekends a month’ or ‘I resolve to go on after-dinner walks at least three nights a week,’” she suggests. “These resolutions are 100 percent achievable, and you’ll feel great when you accomplish them every week, whereas resolving to lose 10 or 20 pounds puts the focus on the result, not the journey, and you might feel inclined to beat yourself up if you reach your goal more slowly than you’d like or if you have a setback.”
Resolutions add pressure
There’s no easier way to feel a giant buzzkill slap you in the face when you’re counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve than eyeballing a list of resolutions you vowed to commit to when the ball drops. Resolutions can be a stressful way to tiptoe into January, and when too much stress is present, you might get the urge to run the opposite direction and make no changes at all.
Max Fischer, CEO of BeLinked, says the last thing you want when approaching your love life is a feeling of pressure.
“Nobody wants to spend time with a person who’s acting like the first date is some kind of strategic military operation,” he notes. “Resolving to get married or to ‘find somebody that completes me’ is just plain unhealthy emotionally and spiritually.”
Fischer explains that many people begin to question their own progress at the start of each year — like whether this is the year they’ll fall in love.
“Here’s the best advice for the new year: Be yourself, have fun and be discerning,” he says. “Take advantage of specialized dating apps that allow you to be more selective, providing higher-quality dating candidates. Be truthful in your dating profile so you can spend time with those that meet your needs and desires. Enjoy the process, seek high-quality partners. No pressure, no resolutions.”
You might set yourself up for failure
If you decide to approach your New Year’s resolutions with the mindset of “go big or go home,” you might be setting yourself up for failure rather than for success. Resolutions that are attainable and include steps that you can actually work toward are the only kinds of resolutions you should have.
Dr. Neeta Bhushan, best-selling author, host of the Revolutionary Leadership podcast and founder of the Global GRIT Institute, says that the most important relationship you will have in your life is with yourself.
“Make sure to set yourself up for success and pause regularly to reflect,” she suggests. “Successful relationships start when two people set out on their own path first. Know what makes you happy before committing to another person. Then, you are able inspire and support each other to form a true partnership.”
A version of this story was published December 2016.
Check out our favorite and most affordable mental health apps for giving yourself some low-pressure self-love:
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