OPINION: New Year’s resolutions are more important than ever after 2020


Image: Jacqueline Lamothe

A student writes down her upcoming goals for the year. According to Nuvance Health, research shows that as many as 50% of adults in the United States make New Year’s resolutions, but fewer than 10% keep them for more than a few months.

This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster.

Most people can agree that 2020 was not the best year. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the turbulent political climate and devastating daily news, New Year’s Eve was more relieving than joyous. With the chaos of 2020 and the arrival of a new year, the question is: is it stupid to create New Year’s resolutions for 2021?

Most New Year’s resolutions are dedicated to improving one’s life. Some of the most popular and repeated resolutions are to save money, exercise more, eat better, connect with friends or some other self-help idea that will hopefully make you feel better after the events of the past year. After 2020, typical goals seem almost like a joke. Between layoffs, quarantine and a grim death toll, none of the normal resolutions seem appropriate right now.

You may ask what the point is for a New Year’s resolution when 2021 seems to be shaping up to be chaotic in itself. It’s just more pressure on yourself to meet some golden standard in a time that seems intent on making it as difficult as possible, without even getting into the typical failure rate of resolutions.

Despite that, there are still many reasons to make New Year’s resolutions. Making progress on goals makes people happier and more satisfied with life, according to Psychology Today.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to create those goals because it gives a more tangible representation of a fresh start. However, only 8% of people actually manage to keep those resolutions all year, and 80% fail by February, according to the Times Tribune. After 2020, the idea of making a lofty goal is more exhausting than exciting.

If you only make one resolution this year, it should be to cut yourself some slack. Psychologist Sophie Lazarus at Ohio State University told CNet that after the stressful events of the last year, putting pressure on yourself to fulfill unrealistic goals is not helpful to you nor will it achieve what you want them to.

Instead, focus on making your goals smaller and more achievable this year. Setting goals gives you something to focus on during the craziness of the year, but make sure to give yourself room to fail or make mistakes.

New Year’s resolutions are best when they are fun aspirations, not strict assignments that will lead to feelings of self pity or failure if you do not accomplish them.

Focus on creating goals that won’t overwhelm you. Limit how many goals you set. If nIf nothing else, one resolution can be prioritizing rest and self-care after a turbulent 2020.