The Danger of New Year's Resolutions

Kaylee Procter


Society encourages us to make New Year’s Resolutions each year. How many times have you heard or said phrases like, “this will be my year,” “New Year, New Me?” I know I’ve said these MANY times in my life. However, the dangers of this mindset are rarely acknowledged. Have you ever set a New Year’s Resolution only to stop doing it less than one month in? Then felt like a “failure” or that you “can’t do anything right” etc.? These self-critical thoughts can trigger feelings of shame and result in you starting 2023 off letting that inner critic take over. This can be discouraging and certainly doesn't put you in the mindset of taking control of your life!

I’m proposing a shift - instead of setting New Year’s Resolutions, let’s choose to take overall more actions in alignment with our values. Values are the principles that determine how we ideally want to behave. They are like a compass, pointing us in a direction that gives our life meaning. Engaging in more valued action has been shown to improve quality of life. Some examples of values are:

Curiosity: being interested and open-minded. This can look like asking questions about topics that interest you, reading, or exploring new places with the intent to learn.

Mindfulness: taking more time to be in the present moment. This could look like, meditating more regularly, tuning into your 5 senses, or practicing active listening (with the intent to fully understand, rather than respond).

Health: prioritizing wellness. This could look like being more intentional with nurturing your body and mind both physically and mentally.

Empathy: being sensitive to others’ experiences/perspectives/feelings. This can look like spending more time “putting yourself in others’ shoes,” demonstrating empathy in conversations, or recognizing when you may be letting others’ experiences take too much of an emotional toll on your wellbeing.

Environment: taking action that shows care for the Earth, environment, and living things. This can look like composting, using reusable plates/water bottles etc., or participating in activism surrounding this issue.

Fun: prioritizing playfulness. This can look like planning a playful activity, finding time to laugh with others, or reflecting on what makes you happy.

Courage: facing struggles with bravery. This can look like recognizing that courage does not mean there is no fear or choosing to be vulnerable with yourself and others.

These are just some examples of values that can guide how we choose to show up for ourselves and within our relationships. When we identify our values, we can then set specific and realistic goals that help us act more aligned with them.

If this is something that you are interested in exploring more, but don’t know where to start, please feel free to reach out and book an appointment! Psychotherapy can be a great place to explore your values and set committed actions. Alternatively, visit @trilotuspsych on Instagram for more values content.

Reference: The Live your Values Card Deck by Lisa Congdon and Andreea Niculescu