We’re almost halfway through January now, and I’m sure that those of us who made resolutions at the end of last year are either stuck into their new routines, or in the process of giving up. Whether you resolved to try Dry January again, dusted off your running trainers in a bid to get more exercise in, or downloaded money saving apps to try and pinch your pennies, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Britons made New year’s resolutions this year, so if you are trying to make a change in your life, you aren’t alone.
On the 5th of January, we ran a few polls on our Instagram and Twitter accounts about New years resolutions, and we’re going to share the results of those below, then have a think about how resolutions fit into our culture, and whether they have the potential to do more harm than good.
We asked the question: “Do you ‘do’ new year’s resolutions?” with the answer options being:
“Yes 100%” which was the least popular choice, with only 3%.
“Yes, but they’re gentle” which was the most popular answer, with 71%.
“No, but to each their own” which racked up 21% of the vote.
“No, I think they’re harmful” which got 6% of the vote.
One participant replied to the subsequent story, in which we encouraged you to send over opinions regarding resolutions, “It’s a good time of year to make some small changed. But don’t worry if it doesn’t stick!”
I think this is a positive attitude to have towards resolutions, and is reinforced in the majority of you selecting the option of ‘gentle resolutions’. Although 1 in 5 of us made resolutions this year, it’s estimated that usually only 28% of Britons keep their resolutions, with 53% keeping some of them, and 17% keeping none at all. The most popular resolutions tend to revolve around health and fitness, with doing more exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol all appearing on the most popular resolutions graph made by YouGov. View all data and read the full article by clicking here.
Although a commitment to making positive change is always good, and some people find resolutions to be positive motivation in their life, the inevitable disappointment that comes with a failed goal can be harmful. A lot of the factors in our life are out of control, and although a lot of these resolutions revolve around healthy habits (more exercise can often improve our mental wellbeing, as can cutting down on drinking!), setting strict new year’s resolutions can add to the pressure we already put on ourselves, and result in increased stress, lower self-esteem and feelings of anxiety.
This is why I’m a firm believer in changing the current narrative around resolutions, and implementing new elements in addition to the traditional resolution ‘list’. Resilience lab recommends focusing on reflecting on your successes over the past year before we sit down to make our resolutions and identifying small areas in your life in which you’d like to make a difference. They also recommend to really think about whether your resolutions are something that you actually want to do, or whether society is pushing you to make a change that you don’t really want to make. Acknowledge that a new year’s resolution probably isn’t going to fundamentally change you as a person, and that’s ok, you’ve got this far, right? Read the full article by clicking here.
The YouGov article summarising the most popular resolutions, shows that resolutions like “spend more time with friends”, “prioritise my mental health”, or ‘have more fun’ are far less popular than weight loss and exercise based goals. Why is this? It’s easy to get sucked into the narrative of ‘new year, new me’, and forget what lies at the heart of these resolutions. I wish that more of us would focus on small, attainable goals that can have a meaningful impact on our life, than trying to change it completely, and risk feeling badly when they don’t ‘work’. Although, according to the data gathered by us in the polls, a lot of you seem to already be focusing on gentle resolutions, which is great.
Maybe, you don’t want to write resolutions at all, and I’m in favour of that too. Getting to the end of the day can be hard enough sometimes, and I think that we should try and spend more time congratulating ourselves on the little things in life, and less time beating ourselves up over our perceived failures. Well done on making it into 2023, and next year, think about resolving to be kinder to yourself. Eat cake, spend time with loved ones, and remember to reflect on everything you’re already doing right. You’re getting by, and that’s more than enough.