I never give much thought to my New Year’s resolutions until that weird time between Christmas and New Year when no-one’s quite sure who they are or what they’re doing. It seems this week, the idea of resolutions pops up more and more. On my Instagram feed, in my YouTube subscriptions, in the mutterings of family and friends about what challenges they’re going to begin on January 1. By New Year’s Eve, I’ve usually decided that I’m going to make my own. 

From my understanding, New Year’s resolutions are goals that people set themselves for the following year to improve their life in some way. The most common ones are usually related to health: eating better, losing weight, doing more exercise. They tend to be about self-improvement. Generally, I think New Year’s resolutions can be a fun and positive thing. However, I don’t treat mine too seriously or put too much pressure on myself to achieve them, which I think is where others can struggle. For example, I would like to eat generally healthier this year. For a lot of people, this resolution also comes with the goal of losing weight, and I think people can get lost in trying to see a huge physical change rather than appreciating the good eating healthy does for their body, regardless of weight or physical appearance.  

I’ve only set myself three goals, or New Year’s resolutions, for 2020. The first two of these go hand in hand – I would like to eat better and do more exercise. However, I’m not too interested in seeing a physical change in myself, I just want to feel that I am caring for my body. Realistically, I feel so much better when I’ve eaten a healthier dinner rather than a takeaway but am often caught out by the ease of just picking up my phone and ordering food. We’re nearing the end of January and so far, I’d say that it’s going well. I think one good thing about resolutions is that you can keep returning to them throughout the year. I try to have mine in mind when I do a food shop. If I buy healthier food when I shop, I limit the amount of unhealthy options I have easy access to at home. 

I think the key to New Year’s resolutions is to be realistic. My third goal is that I want to read 52 books this year. I am an English Literature student, but I’m graduating this year and want to keep up my habit of reading. Currently, I’m reading three texts a week for my course, and would smash my goal if I was doing this for the whole year. However, I acknowledge this pace probably won’t be sustainable when I graduate and enter the working world, so the goal of one book a week is kinder to my future self and provides far less pressure. I think it really helps to create goals with positive language for yourself.  

Personally, I find New Year’s resolutions beneficial. They act as small nudges for me to make better choices throughout the year, and slowly build something into a consistent habit. I’m currently ahead of where I need to be to hit my 52 books for the year, and so far, have maintained healthier eating choices. We’ll have to see how well I’m doing by summer though.