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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

New Year’s resolutions suck

Illustration+Rachel+Choi
Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

It’s the end of January, and New Year’s exists as a foggy memory 20-something days ago. Have you kept up with the multiple resolutions you vowed back then? Or are they just sitting, already abandoned, in the Notes app on your phone?

If you’re like me and have already given up on your resolutions, you are a part of almost half of Americans who have also done so before January is even over. 

This may seem depressing, but in reality, you are just living how you lived less than a month ago. And if you were pretty happy then, why should you feel bad for not changing your life when all you really did was change your calendar?

I’ve always had an aversion toward the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. Winter break is always a nice pause from school, but I often gain a sour taste in my mouth towards the end when, instead of enjoying my time off, I feel the pressure to fix my life come January 1. 

New Year’s resolutions, which started with the Babylons, have evolved into a beast of their own over the past 4,000 years. Instead of fun goals for a new year, there’s now this immense pressure to turn your life around completely. 

This mentality can be fine on its own—why shouldn’t we improve ourselves every year?—but it can quickly become unsustainable, both physically and financially. The start of a new year is good motivation to try new things, but it shouldn’t come at a huge cost. In 2018, half of Americans with financial resolutions said they spent up to $500 on these resolutions. 

For example, when I was driving around my hometown over break, almost every billboard was advertising gym memberships for the new year. Every commercial that played between December 30 and January 10 was about New Year’s resolutions; one of them even suggested buying a new car for the new year.

The one commonality between all of these commercials is that they are advertisements. They are selling a product or service with a facade; on the surface, the message is to “improve yourself,” but underneath, they just mean “give us money.” 

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work out or get more organized this year. To each their own—but maybe don’t splurge on the $50 a month gym membership you won’t bother using come February. Throwing money at New Year’s resolutions won’t solve your problems. 

The best “resolutions” are the changes you can make in your life for free. Capitalism drives almost everything in America, and New Year’s resolutions are no exception. There is a misconception that spending money toward a resolution means you are already making progress towards your goal. If you spend $50 on a gym membership, you may feel pressure to get your money’s worth.

The start of a new year is never “normal.” If you’re a college student, you’re out of school for close to a month. You may be hours or time zones away from your school. If you’re working, you may have New Year’s Eve and Day off from work. Needless to say, it’s hard to make changes to your life when you aren’t following your normal routines. 

Change is best accepted when you need change. There are natural times in your life when you need to upend your bad habits and adopt better ones. Don’t think that you have to make these changes on January 1. If you wake up on a random Tuesday in July wanting to fix your life, do it. The start of a new school year in August is a more natural time to adopt new habits. 

It’s 2024. Expensive New Year’s resolutions are out. Start small with your resolutions, doing something every day that doesn’t break the bank. If you can stick to that for a month, then splurge on an item or subscription that would continue to help your new habit. Find one main goal you really want to achieve this coming year, and focus on that. 

Most importantly, if you don’t have a resolution, don’t feel bad about yourself. We face immense societal pressure to always be changing and improving, but that expectation is unsustainable. Don’t let New Year’s force you to be someone you aren’t. Just be you, and be happy. That’s my New Year’s resolution. 

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About the Contributor
Merritt Hughes, Co-Opinion Editor

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