Why “New Year, New You” Doesn’t Work (and What To Do Instead)
- This Is Why the New Year, New You Mindset Doesn’t Work
- Tip #1: Get Realistic with Yourself
- Tip #2: Choose a Word that Feels Supportive
- Tip #3: Incorporate Moments of Self-Care
- Tip #4: Communicate Your Intentions to Others
- Tip #5: Be Kind and Patient with Yourself
- Final Thoughts on Creating Your New Year Resolutions
The new year is often associated with “turning the page” and “starting fresh,” and it can all feel inspiring and hopeful—until it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.
While society often shares these sentiments with the best of intentions, for some of us, the whole mindset of “new year, new you” can leave us feeling like we missed the mark or fell short in some way. It’s almost as if there’s too much pressure to change all because the calendar year will read differently than yesterday.
The reality is, just because the date changed doesn’t mean that you magically will, too, unless you consider following the tips outlined in this article to help set yourself up for success and approach the new year with a different mindset.
As mentioned above, there is an immense amount of pressure that can come with a new year. We can quickly feel overwhelmed with the number of drastic changes we “should” make to our self-care routine, the food we eat, the way we work out, and the books we read.
In essence, it’s like we expect ourselves to construct an entirely new lifestyle seemingly overnight, all because the numeric year has changed. When you put it that way, it sounds pretty unrealistic, right?
A study from the University of Scranton found that 77% of resolution-seekers kept up new habits for the first week of the year (yay!), but that percentage quickly fell to 19% by the end of the second week.
So, if you’re intimidated by New Year’s resolutions because they haven’t worked in the past, you are certainly not alone. Thankfully, there are some more sustainable ways to bring lasting change and inspiration to the fresh set of 365 days.
While it’s not always the easiest, it’s essential to get honest with yourself on how much and what you’re willing to take on.
To do this, consider how much time you have to devote to your intentions for the new year—is it a few hours a week, a day, a month? There’s no wrong answer; the most important thing is that you’re honest with yourself to best set you up for success. The more open you are about your availability to this commitment, the greater your chances of success.
On top of your available time commitment, consider what you’re able—and willing—to do when it comes to changed behavior. For example, you want to start eating healthier and tell yourself you will make extreme changes to your diet. Consider that it might be more realistic, and sustainable, to pick a few minor changes that could have a significant impact, such as drinking more water, eating more vegetables and healthy fats, and taking a daily multivitamin.
Being realistic with yourself is crucial when making changes for the new year.
After you’ve spent some time getting more acquainted with what’s realistic for you regarding your New Year’s goals, consider choosing one word that feels all-encompassing and supportive of the upcoming year.
This word can be anything that resonates with you, but, ideally, it should leave you feeling inspired, a little bit challenged, and—most of all—excited to make it your reality.
Some potential words to help get you started are:
Once you’ve selected your word of the year, make sure to write it down somewhere you’ll see it daily. You want to keep this word—this feeling—top of mind as you move throughout the year. If you ever stray from your original intention, you can come back to this word as a reminder of the thoughts and feelings behind your why for choosing it.
Instead of having a massive and vague goal to “do more self-care” in the new year, focus on creating moments of self-care throughout your day. The success of self-care is less about the actual acts themselves but more about the consistency in which you tend to your needs.
Keep in mind that your self-care needs can change day by day, and month by month. Permit yourself to remain flexible in how you care for yourself and don’t be afraid to try new things when it comes to caring for yourself.
Here are some self-care ideas to consider:
- Give yourself a foot rub with massage oil every night.
- Set boundaries with your time and energy.
- Take a bath with Epsom salts and essential oils.
- Eat a nourishing breakfast every morning.
- Boost and protect your immune system with an herbal tincture.
- Wind down with a book instead of TV three nights a week.
- Carve out a few minutes for deep breathing daily.
- Use a hydrating face mask to help combat dry winter skin.
- Clearly communicate your needs to others.
As you can see, the above list of self-care ideas isn’t time-intensive or budget-breaking. Instead, they’re practical and approachable—ideally, they’re able to incorporate into your daily life without feeling too overwhelming.
Also, give yourself permission to add, change, or remove anything from this list. It’s simply there to get your self-care juices flowing and inspire you to create more time for yourself without all of the all-or-nothing pressure that can often come with the new year.
Last but certainly not least, the most critical component to successfully making changes throughout the new year is communicating your intentions and goals to others in your life. If people don’t know what you’re embarking on or what you hope to achieve, they won’t properly support you.
Plus, the more you have others involved in your intentions, the more accountable—and hopefully inspired—you’ll continue to feel. Maybe you’ll even inspire others to join in on your new way of doing things.
Once you’ve spent some thoughtful time crafting your new year vision, challenge yourself to talk to one or two people closest to you about what your plans are. Tell them how this year will be different, how you intend to feel, and what you hope to accomplish.
If you’re feeling up to it, tell them how they can support you in making your goals a reality and, in return, offer your support, too. (Only if you genuinely want to. Boundaries, right?)
Ultimately, the most significant piece of advice when it comes to approaching your “New Year” mindset is to give yourself the grace to get back up when you fall off the tracks. Know that missteps are part of the path forward—not a reason to give up entirely.
The more consistent you are with giving yourself kindness and patience to learn new things in a new way, the more success and consistency you’ll find. It’s as simple and as beautifully complicated as that.
If you find that you’re too hard on yourself for “falling off track,” consider rephrasing your inner voice to reflect what you would say to a friend in your position and then repeat it to yourself. And then, believe it.
Remember, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to start a new habit. So, give yourself a little leeway if your new lifestyle doesn’t click right away. As the old saying goes, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
No matter how you approach your new year, the fact you are putting time and effort into making this a better one (whatever that looks like for you) by simply reading this article proves that you’re committed to change.
When—and it will happen—you find yourself getting discouraged or disgruntled, remember the New Year’s tips outlined in this article. Reassess what resources you have available, recall your intended word for the year, create a moment of self-care, communicate with those in your life, and give yourself the grace to try again.
Start over as many times as you need to and keep making adjustments until you find the perfect combination that works for you. Because, ultimately, your new year is what you make it, and you have the express permission to make it whatever you want.
Scratch that. Whatever you need.
- Norcross JC, Vangarelli DJ. The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts. J Subst Abuse. 1988-1989;1(2):127-34. doi: 10.1016/s0899-3289(88)80016-6. PMID: 2980864.