Fewer Americans than ever are making New Year’s resolutions this year. According to The New York Times and CBS, only 29% of Americans have made resolutions in 2022, a 14% decrease from 2021.
Northwestern students seem to share this reservation of resolutions, with only 38% of students surveyed stating they have created intentional goals for the new year. Some students hope to visit the gym while others plan on reading their Bible more frequently. Yet others hope to read a certain amount of books in 2022.
Many students, however, are rebelling against the traditional notion of a New Year’s resolution for several reasons.
“Resolutions hurt more than they help,” freshman Collin Verschoor said. “As soon as you fall off track you feel like you failed.”
Senior Jackson Paganini agreed with this sentiment, expressing those resolutions can sometimes feel contingent on success to prove something to others.
“When I set New Year’s resolutions for myself,” he explained, “I did it to prove myself. I realized in my collegiate years I do not have to prove myself to anyone. This reason is why I do not have a New Year’s resolution, but I do have goals I set for myself.”
Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, many students look for alternative ways to improve themselves in the new year.
“I think there are better ways to focus on self-improvement,” senior Bekah Phifer said. “I would say rather than making one big resolution in January, set smaller, more attainable goals throughout the year – just make things smaller and more measurable.”
Another alternative approach to resolutions is going even broader. Senior Landon Van Berkum shared that he likes to select a theme for his year instead of making resolutions, a philosophy he “stole” from YouTuber CGP Grey. The theme philosophy posits that this enables individuals to step out of the resolution rodeo in which they each year they are quickly thrown from the horse that is their specific resolution, only to limp back the next year.
With general goals, the focus is not on clear, measurable success but rather an upward curve towards improvement. In practice, this might look like giving yourself the theme of “prayer” rather than stating, “I will pray twice every day.” Van Berkum shares that his personal theme for the year is “discipline,” but he is considering changing it to “understanding.”
This theme approach is very similar to a practice a lot of Christians have taken up in recent years as an alternative to resolutions- selecting a word or verse of the year that they hope will guide their actions to come. Some NW student words of the year are “seek,” “grace,” “savor” and “selflessness.”
Freshman Ella Van Zee has made a special twist on her verse of the year, choosing to focus on the Spanish translation of a verse from Matthew 2: “con muy grande gozo.” In English, this means “rejoicing exceedingly with great joy.”
Van Zee explains, “I want to be intentional about choosing joy in everything and noticing the joy of the Lord.”
Whether you chose to make a concrete resolution or focus on a theme, word or verse, January is always a wonderful place to begin with self-improvement and change.