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New Year’s Resolutions in the era of COVID

Emory Oakley

December 31, 2020

Resiliency

New Year’s Resolutions in the era of COVID

Are you the type of person to normally set new year’s resolutions? If you are, you’re probably thinking about the new year and the upcoming changes you want to make in your life. But this year, as a result of the pandemic, our lives look different than they may have otherwise so it’s important to adapt our outlook as we move into the new year. So, what do new year’s resolutions look like in the era of COVID? Our copywriter Emory shares his thoughts on New Year’s resolutions and how we should think about going into this year a little softer. 

My Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions

I have never been the type of person to make new year’s resolutions. I feel like I am setting myself up to fail. I suffer from depression that gets worse in the winter months. And along with many other people I often find January to be one of the most challenging months of the year. As a result, I choose not to set lofty goals for the beginning of the year. 

That does not mean I don’t set goals, or work toward making significant changes in my life – I do. I simply don’t put pressure on myself to do these at the beginning of the year. 

Why New Year’s Resolutions Typically Fail

Despite the fact that new year’s resolutions are not my thing personally, that doesn’t mean no one should be setting them, or that they’re always going to fail. That being said, there are a few common reasons why new year’s resolutions do fail.

1 Too much pressure (speed).

  • When we set goals for ourselves, many of us want to see the changes right away, so if we don’t see immediate progress it’s a failure and this leads us to quit.
  • Solution: We’re likely to see better results if we make small incremental changes over time. 
    • Also, remember that if it were quick and easy everyone would do it.

2 Lack of Confidence.

  • Many of us have tried, and failed, at new year resolutions in the past and this can make it difficult to believe in our ability to succeed.
  • Solution: Be intentional about setting your goals and taking steps toward them every day.

3 They’re too overwhelming.

  • At the opportunity to start fresh many of us set big goals, but when it comes to actually attempting to achieve them we’re overwhelmed.
  • Solution: Know this is totally normal, and shouldn’t prevent us from setting big goals we just need to approach them differently. Instead, try breaking up your goal into more manageable milestones. 

4 Not tracking progress.

  • Having a goal that’s measurable and time-limited are two important aspects of good goal setting. But if you don’t track your progress, you won’t know where you’re at, how far you’ve come, or how far you have left to go.
  • Solution: Write down your goal, how you plan to achieve it, and track your progress regularly. Seeing what you’ve accomplished is a good motivator to keep moving forward and is often accompanied by its own dopamine rush.
    • Don’t forget to reward yourself for hitting your milestone.

5 Lack of Support.

  • It’s harder to achieve our goals when we’re doing them alone. 
  • Solution: Try to find an accountability buddy. Find a friend, or group of people, who are trying to achieve the same goal and when you can engage in activities together or help one another track progress.

6 Lack of Motivation.

    • Many of us know what we want – lose weight, stop smoking, save money – but do we know why? Like actually know why. Not having a solid idea of why we want to accomplish a goal makes it harder to be motivated. 
    • Solution: Attach a value to the goal. This value will provide us with more motivation than simply doing something because we feel obligated to or think we “should”. For example; if weight loss is the goal, ask yourself why you want to lose weight and be honest.
      • Remember the value behind the goal is going to be different for everyone.

    Pandemic New Year’s Resolutions

    Considering the challenges we’ve all experienced this year, I suggest we approach the coming of the new year and new year’s resolutions a bit differently. Let’s go into the new year a little softer this year!

    First, let’s start by forgiving ourselves for the things we didn’t accomplish this year. If you wrote down your resolutions for this year and you’re looking back at them now it’s likely that for most of us we didn’t accomplish many – or any – of the things we set out to do this year. That is okay. This year has resulted in a significant number of changes in everyone’s lives. It has caused such ongoing anxiety that has been difficult to manage even for those who were previously mentally healthy. 

    Second, let’s also forgive ourselves for what we may consider as failings. When it comes to new year’s resolutions many are focused on weight loss, exercise, or quitting vices like smoking or drinking. This year has probably resulted in most of us gaining weight because we’re eating more, eating less healthy, and many are exercising less. This makes sense as a result of the stress and the closing of gyms and other exercise facilities. The same goes for drinking, or other vices we have. It’s hard to quit these things when we are going through particularly stressful times. You’re not alone if you’ve drank more this year than you wanted. 

    It’s okay to have weight loss, or more exercise, be one of your goals this coming year. But don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be where you hoped you’d be already. Start from exactly where you are. And while you’re at it, consider thanking your body for getting you through this year. 

    Finally, consider setting some different types of goals for the new year. Instead of pushing yourself to make big changes set smaller goals. I also suggest setting goals specifically around self-care. 

    Self-care

    Self-care is an important part of our everyday routine, particularly after the year we’ve had. 

    Remember if you’re going to be setting goals for yourself this year to make sure they’re SMART goals. Smart stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

    Here are 6 Easy Steps to Effective Goal Setting from Dr. Joti Samra.

    So, for myself, I am currently setting goals around exercise, particularly yoga. Over the last several months I have noticed that yoga has not only felt good for my body and helped renew some of the strength that faded from not being able to go to the gym but it has also been good for my mental health. 

    A smart goal around yoga would look something like this. Do a minimum of 20 minutes of yoga (does not have to be in a row – can be broken up into two shorter sessions) a minimum of 3 days a week every week for the month of January. Remember it’s important to track progress so I should be writing down each day what yoga I practice (this also helps me to see the progress I am making in terms of being able to do longer practices or being more flexible, etc which helps give me the motivation to continue.)

    Having trouble figuring out where to start when it comes to self-care? Join Dr. Joti Samra’s self-care challenge. Sign up here.

     

    Final Thoughts

    This year has been a challenge, so remember to be gentle with yourself as we head into the new year. There is no rush to lose any weight you’ve gained over the year or break those habits you may have gained. Prioritize taking care of yourself. Let’s look at new year’s resolutions differently this year as a result of COVID. 

    Originally posted by Emory.

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