By CLAIRE CHOI
New Year’s Eve is a holiday notorious for its traditions. Whether it’s through cracking a bottle of champagne open, watching the ball drop, or cheering when the clock strikes twelve, Americans love celebrating the prospect of a new year. And as the parties die down and people go to sleep, most will wake up to a list of resolutions to follow them into the new year.
New Year’s Resolutions have a deep rooted history, dating back to when the Ancient Babylonians made promises to the gods annually before crops were planted. But Americans don’t make promises to the gods in the 21st century; they make promises to themselves. And just as unpredictable the harvests were 4,000 years ago, so too are the results of our promises. Most people follow this tradition, but later in the year find themselves giving up and waiting for the next year to repeat the process. New Year’s is both a celebration and a beacon of hope for those who have had a dismal year before. To many, it’s a fresh start for self-improvement and setting big goals, even if they are short-lived.
In a survey conducted by NPR and The Marist Poll in November and December, 44 percent of 1,075 American adults said they were likely to make a New Year’s resolution. And according to Statista, 59 percent of Americans surveyed resolved to exercise more, 54 percent resolved to eat healthier, and 51 percent resolved to save money.
But at UHS, students’ goals are much more academics-oriented compared to the average American.
Junior Gloria Park says “My New Year’s resolution is probably going to be improving my time management and trying harder in school.”
The start of January is a new year for some students, and a new semester for all. The stress felt during finals week is often enough motivation for students to hope for less borderline grades and sleepless nights in the coming year. But some have different hopes and dreams.
Junior Shivum Berry says “I want to adopt a dog. Or become a better person.”
Everyone has something they want to work on, something they can measure their growth as a person by. Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be.
This spike in ambition causes gym membership enrollment to peak in January every year. It makes people buy planners, go on more walks, or set limits on their screen time. But New Year’s resolutions have the success rate of a first year startup company — said to be about 20 percent according to U.S. News and Report, with most losing their motivation in February.
And when I asked classmates if they had kept up with their 2019 resolutions, this statistic seemed to hold up.
“I’ve always made the same New Year’s resolutions every year, but I never seem to be able to keep my room clean. And my room is on a whole ‘nother scale of messy. It’s like a tornado,” senior Esther Kim said.
A few had relatively good years compared to their last, and truly felt that they accomplished the goals that they had set.
Junior Kristina Yan said “I think mine worked out pretty well, 2018 was pretty traumatic.”
However, others were unconvinced that there’s really a point in making an arbitrary and loose set of goals to define their year.
Junior Yoomin Choi put it simply, saying “I don’t need a New Years’ resolution.”
And maybe he’s not wrong. With a success rate of 20 percent, students have better chances at getting into NYU than sticking to their resolutions. So what’s the issue? Is it procrastination? Are people just inherently lazy?
The way freshman Hannah Park sees it, “The few times I actually set resolutions I’ve never actually achieved them because I was focusing more on the overall outcome than the steps I have to take to reach that outcome.”
Personal growth should not be analogous to America’s economy – a boom and bust cycle that never ends. People should self-reflect every day of the year if they want to see real change, not just one. And a tradition that emphasizes cramming big goals into a year doesn’t exactly encourage consistency.
The first step to accomplishing anything is setting your mind to it. New Year’s resolutions are that outlet for people to intentionally take time to remind themselves of things they want to improve on. But it’s just the first step. Like with anything you do, progress doesn’t happen in a day. You can’t reach your health goals by chugging cucumber water one day and then eating Chick-Fil-A the next (unfortunately). You can’t solve the climate crisis by buying a metal straw. You can’t be TikTok famous if you only know “Renegade.” But what you can do is set small, realistic goals for yourself every day and measure your self worth by what you’re proud to have accomplished, not the boxes you check off on a list of unattainable goals.