Monday, May 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

New Year’s Resolutions and Why They’re Overrated

Every year starts out the same: it’s January 1st and you’ve promised yourself that this is your year to lose weight, get into fitness and eat healthy. You wake up ridiculously hungover the morning after New Year’s Eve and the thought of all that seems impossible, so you swear you’ll start properly tomorrow. 10 days into the new year, you’ve made a solid attempt but can already feel yourself slipping up, asking why you did not just set some more achievable, realistic goals. It is believed that only 8% of people who set out resolutions at the start of the year still continue to accomplish them in December. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t manage to stick with yours, we’ve all been there.

In today’s world, the focus on the idea of hustle culture has created a toxic concept of working so hard that an inevitable burnout is thought of as the peak of productivity. At the expense of a normal sleep schedule, a social life and your overall mental wellbeing, we’re told that working these ridiculously long hours to work towards impossible goals will make us happy. Now, don’t get me wrong, this could be a typical routine for some, where setting such high expectations for yourself is the best and biggest motivator. However, for most of us trying to balance university, a part time job, regular exercise and sustaining a social life whilst also trying to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night and eating 3 meals a day, this just isn’t a realistic outlook on life. It’s great to be ambitious but setting vague New Year’s resolutions that lack structure is just setting yourself up for failure. This year we should be setting goals, things we want to have achieved by the end of 2021. Compared to resolutions, goals are more precise. By being more specific, they allow for planning and preparation, making them more manageable and therefore easier to execute and accomplish. Goals should also be fun and something to look forward to going into a new year, not just an attempt at a quick fix of one aspect of your life. 

After the year we’ve just experienced, we should all aim to be kinder: not only to each other but to ourselves as well. We need to reach out more, to show love to people we know will be alone and need it the most, especially now. 2020 has taught us all that life is too short. Too short to worry about if you’re waking up early enough or walking enough steps in a day. In 2021 we can’t wish another year away, just hoping that the next will be better. We need to make the most of the situations and challenges we are facing right now, especially because we have more time to spend with family or housemates and more alone time than ever before. I challenge you to aim to love yourself more this year, to do the things that make you the happiest, to stop chasing the life you think looks perfect and to embrace the one you are already living.