New year, same tricks: How resolutions hurt you

Image from DALL-E.

New year’s resolutions! What better way to kick off 2024 than with a set goal to complete by the end of it to keep you motivated and growing? Tracing their roots back to the Ancient Babylonians around 4,000 years ago, resolutions have been held as a  symbol of growth and change for longer than any of us have been alive, but do they actually work? There has been a growing disdain for these resolutions recently, with some even calling them outright harmful to one’s growth. So what’s the truth? Are resolutions flawed and actually damaging to our mental health, or do they facilitate growth? 

Some students at Washington High believe that resolutions are too rigid to be helpful. One senior said, “Resolutions have never felt right to me. I always start the year so excited, but by February I’ve already given up and feel worse than when I started.” 

This student gives a voice to those who feel disenfranchised by overly rigid and strict resolutions. We resolve to do a “big thing” by the end of the year, and more often than not set ourselves up for disappointment when we lose motivation a few months in. Put simply, most people’s resolutions aren’t flexible enough to properly encourage growth throughout an entire year. So, what can we do instead?

Recently, thanks to a former professor turned youtuber CGPgrey, a new alternative to resolutions is on the rise. Grey proposed the idea of a yearly theme as opposed to standard resolutions. According to Grey, a theme would differ from a resolution in its flexibility, instead of one solid goal to complete by the end of the year you would have your theme to help guide your choices. A good example would be many people’s resolutions to work out however many times a week. A new year’s resolution saying to go to the gym four times a week is a rigid goal, but a “year of fitness” would help you grow into that desired outcome without setting unreasonable expectations. When the idea of themes was pitched to a group of Washington students, the response was almost entirely positive. One student said, “It seems like that amount of flexibility is what I really needed, because I would always want to have done so many things by the end of the year but never really got the chance to actually grow.”

Themes are resolutions done right: where one is an unchanging goal leading to inevitable disappointment, the other is no more than a hand to hold as it helps you navigate the year. Themes are designed to bend and change with you. They encourage real growth instead of assuming you will not change throughout the entire year. So, walk into 2024 with a theme to guide you instead of a resolution to bind you.

Clayton (Mae) Paxton is a 17 year old first year journalist born and raised right here in Fremont. They’ll gladly write an article about whatever catches their attention, but mainly they want to write about popular game releases and the history of gaming media. Predictably, their main hobby is playing video games but they also spend their free time ranting to their friends about how good whatever song that got stuck in their head is. Their plans for the future are just to make it to the next day and enjoy themselves doing it, ideally getting a job in the gaming industry but never worrying too much about any of that.

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