Point/Counterpoint: Are New Year’s resolutions overrated?

Journal staff debate the value of seasonal goals

New Year's resolutions often get a bad rap for being useless.
Photo: 

Yes

Being fond of beginnings, I understand why the New Year can be hopeful. Resolutions naturally become a part of the feeling, and there’s nothing wrong with embarking on a journey towards self-improvement. However, it’s important to recognize that New Year’s Day is no more special than any other date on the calendar. 

The glorification of goal-setting on Jan. 1 easily limits our perspective and traps us in an all-or-nothing mentality.  It’s no secret that a majority of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, which can be very discouraging. 

Granted, we may shrug our shoulders and tell ourselves that we’ll try harder the following year. But that becomes counter-productive, since the anticipation of next year’s resolutions is another excuse for procrastination.

I’ve tried making New Year’s resolutions in the past, but fell short after realizing how much of my list from one year would overlap with the next. My year-long goals were simply too broad and not realistic enough, and I didn’t exactly need to write down the aspects of my life that required improvement. It’s less overwhelming and far more effective to develop a plan with schedules or to-do lists, and focus on weekly or daily goals instead of thinking long-term.

While I’m not against having New Year’s resolutions, they are overrated. We shouldn’t wait 365 days before we choose to change ourselves for the better. We should be the ones in control of our time, not the other way around.

—Zier Zhou, Editorial Illustrator

No

Saying New Year’s is an arbitrary time to commit to self-improvement underestimates the power of a fresh start. 

Taking advantage of the New Year’s clean slate to make meaningful changes can be empowering, even if we don’t accomplish all we set out to do.

Although resolutions often get a bad rap for being useless, goal-setting is always a good idea. Goals invite self-reflection, inspire personal growth, and motivate us to work hard to achieve success. When we make goals for the New Year, we devise our own blueprint for a rewarding 12 months and take the first step towards change, allowing us to identify our role in creating a better future. 

Whether we stick to our resolutions or not, setting them does more good than harm. Resolutions force us to evaluate the past year, reflect on our successes and failures, and decide what’s important moving forward. 

Taking the time to review the past and refocus on the future is valuable in itself. The act has the potential to be therapeutic, regardless of our ability to realize our goals. 

At the very least, New Year’s resolutions collectively remind us of the importance of improvement. Whether we hope to eat healthier or give back more in 2019, each New Year is a shining opportunity to consider bettering ourselves and the world around us. 

Deciding to set a resolution doesn’t mean we limit our goal-making to once a year either. It means we take advantage of  new beginning to kickstart more fulfilling lifestyles. 

In many ways, resolutions allow us to imagine a year that’s happier and healthier than the last. When we refuse to make them for fear of failure, we miss an important chance to reflect on ourselves, our lives, and the hopes we have for the future.  

—Ally Mastantuono, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.