Of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year's resolutions, only eight percent see them through, according to Reader’s Digest. That’s partly because we tend to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves or set out to tackle too-ambiguous goals.
The other part is because we’re simply not ready for change, even if we think we are. Researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente have written extensively about how people actually make changes, and they note that changes happen in four stages. We transcend from not even considering change, to contemplating change, to preparing for said change to springing into action. After that, we move into maintenance, which is sometimes followed by relapse. Therefore, to successfully fulfil a New Year’s resolution to change your life for the long haul, you ought to be in the fourth stage and ready to maintain that change.
If you’re certain you're eager to kick off the new year with a new you (who dis?), do yourself a favor and at least reconsider these 12 resolutions.
1. To quit your job pronto
Quitting your job might sound enticing, but your resignation is not something you’ll want to rush. For one, you don’t want to burn any bridges, so you’ll want to consider any incomplete projects and how your work would be delegated to colleagues who are likely busier than usual this time of year. Of course, if you don’t care about your colleagues, you should at least care about yourself. Making the decision to quit your job is an anxiety-inducing one; while it might offer you relief, you don’t want to take the risk on a whim. You may want to consult this checklist of things you must do before peacing out.
2. To stop procrastinating
Sure this is a good goal to have, but what does this mean? How will you ensure your productivity in the new year? Rather than telling yourself that you’ll stop procrastinating, tell yourself that you’ll start making to-do lists you can check off, keeping your desk organized because a clear space allows for a clear mind, or harnessing fear so you stop putting things off. Whatever it is you need to do to make this shift, plan to do that instead. Here are some other ways you can fix your procrastination problem.
3. To find love
Love would be nice. But relationship experts, your mother and everyone who’s heard your dating horror stories have or will tell you that you can’t go out looking for it. Perhaps focus on loving yourself more in the new year, and love with another person may follow suit. These quotes on loving yourself will get you started with all the feels.
4. To cry less
Crying is actually healthy. For one, a study from the Netherlands suggests that it can actually improve your mood. For two, it relieves stress — this was evident in a study done by William H. Frey II, Ph.D., a biochemist and director of the Psychiatry Research Laboratories at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre. His theory was that we feel better after crying because it removes chemicals that build up during stress. But science aside, it’s important to recognize and truly feel your emotions — you have them for a reason, and dismissing sadness could lead to bottled up depression down the line.
5. To meet lofty weight loss goals
Losing weight is probably the most popular New Year’s resolution, but experts warn that it’s the worst. “There are too many factors at play when it comes to someone's body weight,” Amber Hurdle, a certified life coach who works with female entrepreneurs, told Reader’s Digest. “Body composition can dramatically change with limited-to-no change in the actual number on the scale. Also, you may have to uncover digestive, hormonal or other health challenges, for example, before you can start seeing any results.” She says that a more practical approach might be to start building healthy habits one at a time, like committing to joining a gym.
6. To say “I love you” more
Okay, this isn’t a poor resolution to make. It’s just that it could be better. Do tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them, but also show them how much you appreciate them. Resolve to make more loving gestures in the new year.
7. To say “yes” more
Sure, saying “yes” and welcoming spontaneity would keep life exciting. But sometimes, it’s important to know when to say “no.” For example, you don’t want to be someone’s doormat in the new year. If you agree to all the work that comes your way for little pay, you’ll probably have regrets. If you really need some alone time, agreeing to go out all the time might set you back mentally. If you say “yes” to spontaneous vacations without considering your finances, your bank account might not thank you for it. You don’t need to feel guilty for saying “no.” You just need to be honest with yourself about what’s plausible and what’s plausible perhaps another time or another way.
8. To make more money
This is similar to the procrastination resolution. How do you plan to make that money? Perhaps you should revise your goal to be a bit more specific — spend more hours working harder or challenge yourself by taking on loftier projects at work. But also think about if it’s really money that you want more of. About 65 percent of people say they’d opt for money over time, according to a study in the journal Social Psychological and Personal Science; but those who did value time over money reported more happiness and life satisfaction.
9. To speak up more
With movements like #MeToo, women everywhere are vowing to speak up more, to share their stories and to shed light on issues that impact their lives. This is incredibly important. But, again, this resolution could be better. Rather than just speaking up more, pledge to listen more, too. Listening helps establish empathy and empathy helps fuel revolutions.
10. To get more involved
Maybe you’ve been meaning to join one of your office’s club sports teams, or you’ve been trying to make more time for your family after work. These are healthy goals to have, but don’t forget that “me time” is critical to your health, too. If there simply aren’t enough hours in the day right now, don’t add more to your plate just because it’s the start of a new year. You can always join the kickball league after you close the client deal. But you also may want to consider setting aside meditation time alone when that space in your schedule opens up.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.