The Do’s and Don’ts of New Year Resolutions

Raise your hand if you didn’t accomplish the New Year’s resolution you set last year. I know you can’t see me, but my hand is raised. My resolution for 2020 was to delete all social media. I felt like I was scrolling mindlessly, wasting time I could be using on creative projects or hobbies. The only app I was able to permanently delete was Snapchat. I took Facebook off my phone, only accessing it now and then on my laptop since I just can’t seem to give up Facebook Marketplace. Instagram, however, is still alive and well, and the time limit I initially set is long gone. I consider myself a pretty disciplined person, so why wasn’t I able to stick to my New Year’s resolution?

U.S. News conducted a study which found that 80% of people give up on their resolutions by the second week of February. The biggest reason for this is that our goals are motivated by guilt and that -- put simply -- we are biting off more than we can chew. Thinking back to last January, I’m not surprised that I wasn’t able to stick to my resolution. Giving something up cold turkey can definitely be done, but it’s much harder than gradually eliminating things that don’t serve us. If I had chosen to eliminate one social media app at a time, I probably would have succeeded. So, how can you set a New Year’s resolution that you won’t give up on so easily? Check out these four tips!

1. Go easy on yourself

Do the opposite of what I did last year and go easy on yourself! Set one goal that is simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. These are called S.M.A.R.T goals. Say you want to “eat better.” That’s vague.  How will you measure that? What does “eating better” mean to you? When will you decide that you’ve met this goal? Or maybe you want to work out more. If right now you’re getting a solid workout in 2 days a week, I wouldn’t set your goal for 7. That’s probably not attainable for you at this period in your life. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure by saying you’re going to work out 7 days a week, when in reality, 3 or 4 times a week is best for your body and mind.

2. Frame them positively

Like the study mentioned above found, most of our resolutions stem from guilt. We’re coming out of the holiday season feeling sluggish and full of cheese. We could be thinking negatively about ourselves and our bodies, wanting to quickly fix what is “wrong” with us. Though it may sound cliche, there truly is power in positive thinking. Let’s go back to the healthy eating resolution. Instead of saying “I want to stop eating fast food,” try, “I want to start adding an extra serving of vegetables to my diet.” Instead of thinking “I need to get off the couch more often,” try “I’m going to run one extra mile a week.” Feels better, right?

3. Try something new

Try something new by making your resolution… not about you! Pick your favorite charity and donate once a month or even once a quarter. Choose a donation amount that fits your budget, eliminating any stress about finances. We at Shared Planet donate 10% of all our sales to these charitable organizations that are important to our mission. Want another idea? Try calling a friend instead of texting. Choose a few friends who you don’t talk to as much and pick up the phone the next time they text you. You might be surprised by how good a conversation with an old friend makes you feel!

4. Don’t set one

Does setting a resolution stress you out or make you feel bad about yourself? If the answer is yes, don’t set one! Be kind to your mind and skip the New Year’s resolution altogether this year.

2020 has been difficult, and we all deserve a stress-free, positive beginning to 2021. Ditch the “new year, new me” mentality and focus on being happy and healthy in whatever way makes most sense to you!


Maggie Blehar is a Philadelphia based writer/educator with a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Education. She has been plant-based since 2011 and is always in search of ethical companies to support. She loves traveling, walking her dog, painting, meditation, working for social justice, digging deeper into her zodiac sign, and exploring the Philly vegan scene with friends. Some of her favorite organizations are: Don’t Eat the Homies, Farm Sanctuary, CHNGE, Gentle Barn, and the Equal Justice Initiative.