January 17, 2022

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Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions?

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It’s the beginning of a New Year, a time when many people reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Or do you find it more helpful to look for opportunities for growth throughout the year?

For the past 10 years, Alex Boughen made big, determined New Year’s resolutions. “It was always eating healthier, working out more, that kind of thing,” he said.

The problem was he could never keep them. “I was one of those people who went to the gym on Jan. 2,” said Mr. Boughen, 28, who works for a communications agency in Ontario. A couple of weeks later, he said, “they never saw my face again.”

Sometime this summer, it dawned on him that he could approach things differently. Rather than wait until the first day of the new year to overhaul his habits, he would try and make small and incremental changes. If he missed a run one morning, he would go for a walk after dinner instead. He would try to eat a few meals at home where he could control the ingredients and make sure they were healthy.

Most important, messing up one day didn’t mean giving up completely. “If I don’t hit a goal one day, I just try again the next day,” he said. “It’s a much better strategy than waiting until the new year to try again.”

The new year is almost here, and with it, myriad resolutions. But some millennials and Gen Zers are abandoning the tradition, opting instead to work on themselves year-round or the moment they realize they need to change. If they really want to do things differently, they figure, why wait for Jan. 1?

Mr. Boughen pointed out that the reason many people don’t accomplish their goals is because they procrastinate. “A lot of us find ourselves always pushing things off,” he said. “I always say I will start on Monday, or I will start in the new year. That was toxic for me.”

  • What is your reaction to the article? Do you identify with any of the ways these young people approach resolutions and goal-setting? Are you inspired by any of their ideas or strategies? Why or why not?

  • Do you wait for significant events — the New Year, birthdays or the beginning of the school year — to set new goals? Or, do you prefer to make small and incremental changes throughout the year?

  • What are your resolutions for 2022? If you don’t set New Year’s resolutions, what goals or self-improvements are you currently working on, if any?

  • Do you find it easy or difficult to set goals and achieve them? What usually gets in your way when trying to accomplish a task or develop a new habit? Do you have any strategies for overcoming these obstacles?

  • Abbey Phaneuf, 22, said that every year she feels pressure to make a resolution, but that “she knows that in order to really change her life, she has to want to go deep within; it can’t just be something she is doing because of groupthink.” Do you ever feel pressure, whether from friends, family or social media, to set New Year’s resolutions? Do you find this pressure helpful or distracting? Tell us about a goal you set and accomplished and why you think you were successful at it.

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