COLUMN: Why most New Year's resolutions hurt more than help
"New year, new me."
That's what many people think and post when choosing their resolutions for the New Year. I can't say it's horrible, because I'm guilty of thinking it every time I see the ball drop.
This year was different.
I managed to accomplish every resolution I set for 2018: I chose a major that made me happy, participated in the internship of a lifetime, excelled in the classroom and was promoted twice. This year may have been the best year of my life.
Even with this pride, I felt forced to look back on all the things that made me unhappy so I could begin drafting my new resolutions.
For many, dissatisfaction can come from failed resolutions and goals throughout the year. The only issue was that I had everything I previously strived for.
Why was I still so eager to change my life?
There is an invisible harm that stems from New Year's resolutions: the idea that nothing will ever be good enough.
I thought having a perfect career would make my life easier. I had the idea that being on the Dean's List each semester would bring me a sense of comfort, or that being active would give me more satisfaction.
The truth is no matter how hard we try to make our lives perfect, we can't.
The New Year is notorious for being the start of a "new self," yet it rarely helps the average person accomplish their goals. In fact, most resolutions can cause a large financial, mental and physical burden on the people who try to follow through with them.
The truth is that most people will never be satisfied and cannot be satisfied, no matter how hard they try.
When we are young, we want the scooters we see our friends riding up and down the street. After years of bruised ankles, we want bikes with bells and pretty designs to ride across town. As we enter high school, we start to dream of cars. After college, we want houses of our own.
I would bet money that by the end of college, a scooter would be about as appealing as a rock.
But would you remember the feeling of wanting the scooter more than anything else? Of course you would, because now you feel that way about a house. It's a different object with the same desire attached to it.
My point is that even when you fulfill a temporary want, you will always be hungry for improvements. The things that we once thought were good are no longer good enough.
New Year's resolutions imply that we need more than we have, and that we are not good enough right now. When people fail to meet their goals, resolutions and expectations, it can cause low self-esteem and guilt.
In January, for example, students return to college or high school with a new schedule and routine to get comfortable with. Working-class members of society return to their jobs, anxious to earn money after spending hundreds or maybe even thousands on gifts during the holiday.
Gym memberships, needed in order to complete some resolutions, cost money. Traveling abroad, something many hope to do, requires even more. Repairing relationships, or cutting them off completely, can take focus away from both school and work-related tasks that are necessary to excel or survive.
Priorities make it difficult to complete our goals. Most of the time, it's because we don't need to complete our goals as much as we need to earn money, eat and sleep.
It's sad to think that we make such grand promises to ourselves and can't seem to live up to them. According to U.S. News, approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February.
That's a lot of disappointment, guilt and shame to face over a silly tradition that we didn't need to begin with.
You aren't lazy if you have trouble sticking to your resolutions. You may be unrealistic and impatient if you continue the habit of making them. Instead of trying to induce major change this January, I challenge you to ditch your resolutions.
Rather than use a New Year's resolution, start changing your life when you feel ready financially, emotionally and physically. It's okay to abandon the tradition and focus on realistic, timely tasks that don't create burdens down the road.
In most cases, we just want better than we have now.