Over the festivities of the last few weeks, I have heard a number of people deploring the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve seen articles on resolutions you should try, pieces on resolutions that you should strictly avoid, and tips for sticking to your guns. It all got me thinking – what do I think of this practice? One day when I have my own kids, would I encourage them to make New Year’s resolutions?

My initial thoughts were a little negative, I’ll admit. For one, it doesn’t seem like anyone takes the time to think about where they, personally, want to improve. Everyone’s resolutions seem the same – to lose weight, eat better, maintain a better work-life balance, make new friends, and so on. Not to mention that they are often vague and lofty, without thought for practical execution. As for whether people actually manage to abide by their resolutions – that’s a whole other thing. It all can really start to seem like a gimmick.  

My other reason for being unsure about New Year’s resolutions is the fact that I prefer the idea of always working on something year-round – noticing bad habits (of my own accord or because a lovely family member or friend had decided to point it out to me) and trying to improve on or eradicate them. For example, my mum is always telling me that I make a lot of noise in the kitchen – banging cupboard doors, chucking cutlery and such, so I try and do things a little more gently. A few years ago I noticed my tendency to waste time and how unproductive it left me feeling, so I started getting involved in more activities – finding plenty of good reading, filling up my social calendar and more, to give me little time to regret wasting. Shouldn’t it be this way, that people set goals throughout the year, not only at the start?

Reflecting on it now however, I think I’ve been a little harsh on this ritual. To start, it reveals something beautiful about human nature – the desire to improve and better ourselves. What other living being does such a thing? Also, a new year feels like a fresh start, a time where bad habits seem easier to overcome, good habits seem more achievable, and optimism is at its highest levels. Why not fuel these sentiments into improving oneself, after all!  A little bit of extra motivation never hurt, so let’s take what we can get. What do you think? Are New Year’s resolutions a “do” or a “don’t”?

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.