Are New Year’s Resolutions Bad?

Debunking the Myths and Setting Realistic Goals for Success

The beginning of a new year often brings a wave of optimism and a desire for personal growth and self-improvement. It’s the time when many people make New Year’s resolutions, setting goals for themselves with the hope of becoming better versions of who they are. But are New Year’s resolutions truly beneficial, or are they just setting us up for disappointment and failure?

We’ll explore the age-old debate about whether New Year’s resolutions are bad, examining the common criticisms and myths surrounding them. We’ll also provide practical advice on how to make resolutions that are achievable and have a lasting impact on your life. Ultimately, we’ll help you decide whether or not New Year’s resolutions are worth pursuing.

Myth #1: New Year’s Resolutions Are Ineffective

One of the most significant criticisms of New Year’s resolutions is the belief that they are ineffective. It’s true that many people struggle to stick to their resolutions, and a significant portion eventually abandon them altogether. However, the problem isn’t necessarily with the concept of resolutions itself but rather with how they are formulated and approached.

Setting the Record Straight:

  • Studies show that individuals who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than those who do not make any specific commitments. (1)
  • The issue is not the idea of resolutions but the unrealistic or vague goals people often set. For example, vowing to “lose weight” without a clear plan can lead to frustration.
  • To make resolutions more effective, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This approach enhances the likelihood of success.

Action Step:

Before dismissing the idea of New Year’s resolutions altogether, consider setting SMART goals that are specific, attainable, and come with a clear plan of action. For instance, if your goal is to get fit, specify how many days a week you’ll exercise, what type of exercise you’ll do, and how you’ll measure your progress. - High quality guided meditations

Myth #2: Resolutions Set Unrealistic Expectations

Another common criticism is that New Year’s resolutions set unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment when people inevitably fall short. Critics argue that the pressure to make significant life changes all at once can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

Setting the Record Straight:

  • While it’s true that lofty resolutions can be overwhelming, it’s essential to understand that not all resolutions have to be drastic. Small, incremental changes can lead to significant improvements over time.
  • The key is to set realistic expectations and be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and personal growth is often a gradual process.

Action Step:

Instead of aiming for radical transformations overnight, break your resolutions down into smaller, manageable steps. For instance, if your resolution is to read more books, start with a goal of reading one book a month, then gradually increase it as you build the habit.

Myth #3: People Only Make Resolutions Because of Social Pressure

Critics argue that many individuals only make New Year’s resolutions due to societal pressure or because it’s a trend, rather than genuinely wanting to make personal improvements. They contend that this external motivation is not sufficient to drive lasting change.

Setting the Record Straight:

  • While societal expectations can influence people’s decisions, the desire for self-improvement is a natural and healthy human aspiration.
  • It’s crucial to differentiate between resolutions that align with your personal values and goals and those made under duress or peer pressure. Authentic resolutions tend to be more successful.

Action Step:

Reflect on your motivations for making a resolution. Are you setting a goal because it genuinely matters to you, or are you doing it to conform to societal norms? Ensure your resolutions align with your values and aspirations for genuine and lasting change.

Myth #4: Resolutions Are All-or-Nothing

Some critics argue that New Year’s resolutions often promote an all-or-nothing mentality, where individuals feel that if they stumble or experience setbacks, they should abandon their goals altogether. This can lead to feelings of failure and discourage future attempts at self-improvement.

Setting the Record Straight:

  • The all-or-nothing mindset is a common pitfall, but it’s not inherent to New Year’s resolutions. It’s a cognitive bias that can affect any goal-setting process.
  • It’s essential to recognize that setbacks are a natural part of the journey towards self-improvement. Instead of giving up entirely, learn from your mistakes and adjust your approach.

Action Step:

Embrace a growth mindset, which emphasizes learning from failures and setbacks. If you encounter obstacles while pursuing your resolutions, view them as opportunities for growth and adjust your strategy accordingly.

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Myth #5: Resolutions Are Too Focused on the Self

Critics argue that New Year’s resolutions often promote a self-centered approach to personal growth and neglect the importance of community and collective well-being. They contend that resolutions should prioritize societal and environmental goals over individual desires.

Setting the Record Straight:

  • While it’s true that some resolutions can be self-focused, there is no inherent contradiction between personal growth and contributing to the greater good.
  • In fact, personal growth can lead to a more significant positive impact on society, as individuals who are healthier, happier, and more fulfilled are often more capable of helping others.

Action Step:

Consider incorporating resolutions that align with your values and contribute to the well-being of your community or the environment. For example, you can resolve to volunteer more, reduce your carbon footprint, or donate to charitable causes.

The Benefits of Making New Year’s Resolutions

Now that we’ve debunked some common myths about New Year’s resolutions, let’s explore the potential benefits of setting goals at the beginning of a new year.

  • A Fresh Start: The start of a new year provides a psychological fresh start, making it an ideal time to commit to positive changes in your life.
  • Increased Accountability: Sharing your resolutions with friends or family can create a sense of accountability, motivating you to follow through on your goals.
  • A Structured Approach: Resolutions provide a structured framework for setting and achieving personal goals, helping you stay organized and focused.
  • Celebration of Progress: Achieving your resolutions can be a cause for celebration, boosting your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Continuous Self-Improvement: The act of setting and working towards resolutions promotes a lifelong commitment to personal growth and self-improvement.


So, are New Year’s resolutions bad? The answer is a resounding no, as long as they are approached with thoughtfulness and intentionality. While there are valid criticisms of the way some people set and pursue their resolutions, the concept of striving for self-improvement and growth is inherently valuable.

To make the most of your New Year’s resolutions, remember these key takeaways:

  • Make your resolutions SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
  • Set realistic expectations and be patient with yourself.
  • Ensure your resolutions align with your values and aspirations.
  • Embrace a growth mindset and learn from setbacks.
  • Consider incorporating resolutions that benefit your community and the environment.

Ultimately, New Year’s resolutions can be a powerful tool for personal growth and positive change when approached with sincerity and a commitment to self-improvement. So, as the New Year dawns, take the opportunity to reflect on your goals and aspirations and make resolutions that will help you become the best version of yourself.

Now, the question is, what will your New Year’s resolutions be, and how will you work towards achieving them? Don’t let the myths and criticisms hold you back. Embrace the opportunity for growth and transformation that the start of a new year provides. Your journey towards self-improvement begins now!

If this article has sparked inspiration and you’re eager to kickstart the New Year with purpose and clarity, pause to contemplate your personal ambitions and dreams. Make a commitment to yourself: establish clear, attainable resolutions that reflect your core values and place your personal development and well-being at the forefront. Share these goals with loved ones for an extra layer of motivation and accountability, and view any hurdles as stepping stones for growth, not as defeats.

Embrace the New Year’s transformative energy and let your resolutions be the compass that directs you towards your best self. To further support and streamline your journey, we warmly invite you to get our free 30-Day Checklist for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions. It’s more than just a plan; it’s your pathway to positive change and self-fulfillment in the year ahead.

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