Trinity Rea is a second-year journalism major and writes “Bury the Hatchet” for The Daily News. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
I still remember some of my first New Year's resolutions.
At the dawn of the new year at age 10, I promised to quit eating Cheetos, a silly idea that quickly turned permanent. A few years after that at 14, I vowed not to tie my shoes for a whole year, which proved to be more difficult than I originally thought.
And the following year, I decided I needed to lose an unreal amount of weight.
The need to lose weight had been nagging me, building up year after year. I felt pressured to adhere to societal expectations of how my body should look. I worked out intensely for a few months until I inevitably burnt myself and my body out. I hated it but could never find a way out of this continuously pressuring mindset, thus creating the resolution and the same destructive cycle every year.
Each December, I’d read online about how to create and maintain the best New Year’s resolutions while simultaneously watching different talk shows that ran similar segments about bettering yourself. In reality, the segments only encouraged me to hit the gym, eat less and lose weight. They were usually followed up by where to find the best year-long gym membership deals.
The consistent and harmful messages from these sources fueled my unhealthy mindset and held me to unreal expectations. I grew tired of hating myself, and I wanted to change. But I was stuck.
Breaking this mentality took a lot of time and effort. I didn’t even know that one could work out and become physically fit without the goal of shedding weight.
As the first New Year's Eve rolled around where I felt comfortable with myself and my body, I found myself asking: What is a resolution if I am already content with my physique?
Recently, the pressure and mindset I used to feel have come not just from television or online content, but I’ve recognized and heard it in recent conversations with peers. Many people I know still surround the topic of resolutions with weight-loss-centric ideals and not for actual health reasons.
According to a 2023 survey by YouGov, 19 percent of Americans had a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, while 17 percent had a resolution to be happy.
Almost a quarter of Americans decided their 2023 resolutions would be based on changing how they look or their level of overall satisfaction with life.
When I would make resolutions to lose weight, I just wanted to be happier. But I was blinded by the impression that there was only one way to do it — endless crunches, fewer calories and home workout routines aimed at shedding pounds.
I recognize now the only way I can genuinely be happier is by taking care of myself both physically and mentally without an emphasis on changing for the wrong reasons.
Taking care of myself does not include reshaping my whole identity or how I look but rather accepting and loving myself for who I really am.
Since this realization, my New Year’s resolutions have become more meaningful to me and, honestly, healthier.
In 2022, I resolved to journal every day. I had just finished the first semester of my senior year of high school. My friends encouraged me to make more time for myself as graduation approached.
I took this encouragement as the final push to start taking care of myself for real. I came to recognize that I no longer wanted to suppress anything, and I began to write out all I felt and believed.
Along with journaling, I came up with a healthy workout routine — one I have stuck with and built on over the past couple of years. Since I made this resolution two years ago, I have become much more confident in myself and my identity.
Most importantly, I feel good.
According to Forbes Health, 34 percent of American adults are basing their 2024 resolution on weight loss, while 36 percent want to improve their mental health. These numbers are higher than last year, which is great and showcases a desire for change. However, 62 percent of those surveyed feel pressured to simply create a resolution.
I think the stigma surrounding New Year’s resolutions is improperly based on false ideas and societal goals. What matters above all is self-improvement, and we’re at a point where more people need to recognize that when reviewing their past year and setting resolutions.
For 2024, those who desire to create a resolution need to be more realistic about their self-improvement goals. To do this, we must first recognize that resolutions shouldn’t be viewed as a way to apply pressure or place immense responsibility on oneself. They should benefit you and not drain you to the point where you can't continue.
With this in mind, think of a goal of yours. For example, you could try eating healthier. Instead of this being your overall resolution, break it down into a smaller goal, something realistic and achievable. With this example, that could be as simple as making a healthier choice for dinner just one night each week.
Creating a resolution that encourages growth is beneficial and is easy to obtain is very important. When you create something healthy and achievable, you propel yourself into a new sense of self-love.
A resolution can be something so small but, in reality, very fulfilling.
Become a parent to a succulent and resolve to keep it alive all year. Journal something short every other night before bed to better your emotional expression. Go outside more and become more aware of the nature around you. Maybe your goal is to just go to bed earlier or to allow yourself to focus on breathing a few times a day.
Above all, you should feel good, successful and, hopefully, proud of yourself with the help of these self-set resolutions.
This year, my New Year’s resolution is to step out of my comfort zone and try something each month that I have never done before. I’m not going to jump out of a plane, but I will be attempting to be more open with others, try therapy and write different pieces that I have not done before.
2024 should be the year we should all try to take care of ourselves. A healthy and beneficial New Year's resolution is a great place to start.