Still on Track? A Personal Essay on New Year's Resolutions

Story By Derek Pena

With the arrival of a new decade, people all across the globe celebrate with their closest friends and family, and make promises to improve on certain aspects of their life. Seemingly  everyone is ecstatic for this chance at rebirth and improvement! Well, everyone except me. When I was a child, I always asked my mother why we needed to get all dolled up, flourish dollar bills, and ignite fireworks at the end of each and every year. She would always pat my little head and explain how exciting it was to welcome a brand-new year full of surprises by starting off on the right foot! Yet, I never felt any different after the clock struck 12. As a matter of fact, almost everyone else stayed relatively the same despite the huge emphasis placed on the mythical New Year’s Resolution.

Now, I don’t hate celebrating New Year’s. I do enjoy visiting with relatives I rarely get to see, and watching fireworks pepper the night sky with their colorful might. However, it’s always bugged me how much people rave about New Year’s Resolutions. As a person who is very goal-oriented, why should I wait until the end of the year to improve the parts of me that I’m dissatisfied with? In addition, the fact that the majority of people drop their resolutions before January is even halfway over further emphasizes the pointlessness of it. I’ve never made a New Year’s Resolution, as I don’t believe improvement comes from needing to buy a new calendar. Instead, I’ve had moments scattered throughout various times in the year where I decided to grab my life by the reigns and turn it around. I’ve changed the way I handle relationships with others, improved upon my health, and developed my time management skills this past decade all thanks to my own determination. I fully believe others can achieve their goals too but approach it incorrectly.

I believe the most important factor that will determine whether or not one meets their resolution is their level of personal understanding. Contrary to popular belief, it is not healthy or efficient to push yourself to the limit all the time. People are imperfect—if they weren’t, what would be the point of making a resolution in the first place? If you want to make going to the gym a habit, or work on speaking your mind more often, you need to cut yourself some slack at times. Even Olympic athletes need days off to rejuvenate their bodies. In addition to ensuring you don’t overwork yourself and burnout too early, it’s also important to know what types of rewards you respond to. If you’re more of a social person, surround yourself with people that will praise you for your progress. If you love seeing yourself making strides towards your goals, try to take joy in the small improvements you notice, as those will add up over time. For me, I love to plan out my goals, so adhering to one was reassuring in my quests for improvement.

As January comes to a close, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on your possible resolutions. Have you, like many others, given up already? Or have you been diligently working throughout the month to avoid being another person that has broken it? Keep in mind, it’s never too late to try again and making mistakes is more than alright! Unfortunately, just reading this won’t fortify your resolve to push towards victory. That is up to you. Happy New Year!

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