Since the new year began, the perennial questions: ‘What did I achieve last year?’ and ‘What are my goals this year?’ and ‘Why have I still not got round to doing that yet?’ begin to arise. Soon, the realisation dawns on us that we didn’t accomplish the things we vowed we would the year before, leading us down a destructive, self-critical path of unkept promises and abandoned ideas. So why do we insist on creating unachievable resolutions year after year? 

Type ‘new year’s resolutions’ into your search bar, and the internet will produce thousands of statistics, informing us on how many people set themselves new year’s resolutions, what kind they set, who sets them and the most dampening of all: how many of us follow through with them. It has been proven that 8 out of 10 people who set themselves a new year’s resolution give up on them before the end of January. The main reason being is that we keep setting ourselves incredibly vague goals. By doing this, our failure becomes inevitable because ‘be more healthy’ or ‘get fit’ can mean one hundred different things, and no matter what steps you take towards that goal, you constantly feel underwhelmed by your achievements. 

The perfect formula for an achievable goal is as follows: 

Create the vague goal first. E.g. ‘be more healthy’

Decide what elements of your life need to change in order to achieve this goal. E.g. ‘make my evening meals more nutritious’

Understand the problems with that element of your life. E.g. ‘not adding enough vegetables to my meal’

Determine what easy changes you can make. E.g. ‘start buying and 

meal prepping more fresh produce’

Taking the previous steps into consideration, create your new, specific goal. E.g. add two previously prepared vegetables to every evening meal. 

One of the most interesting statistics you may come across, is that 97% of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) will set themselves a new year’s resolution, compared to 23% of the Silent generation (born between 1928 and 1945). This infers that younger generations are highly focused on improving themselves and achieving as much as possible. Whether this focus is driven from the influence of social media, or by the longing for validation, it is clear that the elderly in our society possess a very different viewpoint. It could be possible that, due to meeting more life experiences, the elderly no longer believe that there is any worth in creating new year’s resolutions. The mindset of this generation appears to be: ‘if there is a goal you wish to achieve, the wisest approach is to pursue it straight away, rather than waiting for a certain time and date before you allow yourself to commit to it.’ 

The stigma behind new year’s resolutions originates from the idea that nobody ever commits to them, which isn’t true. Those who are able to achieve their goals don’t necessarily have more willpower and discipline than everybody else, but rather choose quantifiably measurable goals and understand how to put the right plan in place to pursue them.  

‘Choosing goals that tackle mental wellbeing as much as physical wellbeing can indicate positive steps forward to a new, improved you – for example, aiming to give three compliments throughout the day to whoever you interact with can boost your own sense of wellbeing just as much as the recipients’.’ Kirstie Roberts.