- A survey of our readers shows an increased willingness to make a New Year’s resolution this year.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has affected goal achievement, but not goal setting.
- Physical and mental health is a priority in 2021.
At the end of a year where goals and resolutions set last January went out the window due to unforeseen circumstances, people are reevaluating their New Year’s resolution plans for 2021. While the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic can easily make people throw resolutions to the wind, it’s instead pushing many people to hunker down and focus on self-improvement.
According to a recent survey by Verywell Mind Readers, at least 44% of respondents plan to make resolutions this year. After all, 30% said the pandemic experience made them more likely to make a resolution this year.
Solving during COVID-19
15% of survey respondents—who were primarily female, white and over 55—made resolutions at the turn of the calendar each year. Meanwhile, 44% of readers said they sometimes make resolutions, and only 34% remember making one for 2020.
If respondents plan to make a resolution for 2021, that would represent an increase from last year, so it’s natural to wonder how much the pandemic has affected their decision to make (or not) a New Year’s resolution. .
Epidemics don’t have to be goal-directed
Just 16% of readers say the pandemic has put them off making a resolution, with nearly twice as many participants having the opposite effect. Why might this period of turmoil lead more people to make New Year’s resolutions for 2021?
“People have had more time to reflect on their lives this year. A slower pace means people can really step back and examine what’s important to them. And for some, that may mean implementing some changes in the future,” says Amy Morin, LCSW, editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind.
2020 brought physical and mental health into focus
When asked what kind of resolutions they plan to make, physical health is an overwhelming priority for our readers. After a year in which people didn’t get out much, and put off many common ways to exercise, it’s no wonder that 80% of readers are targeting physical health-related goals in 2021, meaning eating healthier, exercising more. , or weight loss.
Mental health and relationships with friends and family were the next two most common focuses for resolution, cited by 40% and 30% of respondents, respectively. Other types of New Year’s resolutions people plan to make this year include specific skills and hobbies, financial goals, romantic relationships, and children.
Many such goals cannot be achieved in 2020 due to lockdowns, social distancing and job losses, no fault of those who didn’t set them. It is clear that people are eager for better times ahead, and that normalcy is likely to return as distribution of the Covid vaccine becomes more widespread.
Setting goals is easy – meeting them is the hard part
Regardless of the type of resolution they set, only 5% of readers said they always share their goals with others. This hesitation to get an audience for your resolution may come from fear of not achieving them.
Just over one-third, 36%, of readers reported rarely or meeting their resolutions. However, at 60%, many more people said they sometimes meet their goals – an encouraging sign. There’s no shame in being part of that 36%, and it should be seen as an inspiration that people will continue to set goals despite not hitting them in the past.
Amy Morin, LCSW
Remember that motivation will wane over time so you need strategies to help you stick to your resolution even when you don’t feel like it.
— Amy Morin, LCSW
Seeking self-improvement is a worthy goal in itself, and shows the resilience needed to overcome the struggles of a year like 2020 and come out a stronger person on the other side.
Why some choose not to solve
Of the one-third of people who said they wouldn’t make a resolution, 47% said it just isn’t part of their tradition. Others report that they try to improve throughout the year with statements such as:
- I don’t wait until the new year to do what I need to start
- I don’t need to improve based on the start of the new year.
- I try to live my best life every day
Even if you don’t make a resolution now, that doesn’t mean you’ve given up on goals for the year. In fact, taking the stress out of traditional New Year’s resolutions and setting mid-year goals can be a helpful change.
For other readers, the epidemic is enough to deal with, and following through with resolutions may not have worked in the past, saying things like:
- Uncertainty is high in the world
- Enough stress already
- If I do, I usually can’t go through with it
Choosing a resolution that sticks
While it can be tempting to pick a top goal, if you set a resolution, there are steps you can take to stick to it. “It’s important to consider whether your resolution is effective, measurable and reasonable,” says Morin. “Saying things like ‘I want to be healthy’ isn’t likely to change. Instead, it’s important to set goals you can track, like going to the gym three days a week.”
When you can see concrete progress and steps in the right direction, it can be easier to stick to and fulfill your New Year’s resolutions. This is the principle behind the concept of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Small, actionable steps
Before setting these goals, Morin recommends considering the steps necessary to achieve them. This preparation can help set you up for success as the years go by.
Figuring out how to track your progress is one way to stay on top of your resolutions. “Remember that motivation will wane over time so you need strategies to help you stick to your resolution even when you don’t feel like it,” says Morin.
Some strategies to consider are a weekly log of everything you’ve done to achieve your goals, having a check-in buddy to encourage each other throughout the year, and setting milestones to reach throughout the year that serve as their own accomplishments. The positive vibes of even small successes can act as a powerful motivator to keep going.
What does this mean for you?
If you finish your New Year’s resolution as late as January 2nd or December 30th, don’t take it as a failure or a reflection of who you are. You may set a goal on January 1st and realize by June that your priorities have changed and your resolution no longer aligns with your time and energy needs.
And if you don’t set a resolution for 2021, that doesn’t mean you can’t hit self-improvement goals throughout the year anyway. Resolutions don’t work for everyone, so it’s important to find a goal-setting strategy that works best for you.
“It’s important for people to periodically evaluate their resolution,” says Morin. “If the goal is too big or needs to be shifted, you can make those changes. You might discover that your resolution isn’t what you expected. Maybe it took more family time than you expected to get in shape. Or maybe you’ve made the progress you’ve made.” You don’t see what you want. It’s important to evaluate how to make healthy changes to your goals. Then, you don’t abandon them completely because it’s not working.”
This survey was conducted from 12/10/20 to 12/21/20 Respondents resided in the United States and were voracious mind readers over the age of 18.
Age: Z 1% | Millennials 5% | Gen X 17% 77% of boomers or older
Region: Midwest 19% | Northeast 24% | South 32% | West 24%
Background: White 77% Black or African American 7% Hispanic/Latino or Latinx 6% | Asian 3% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1% | American Indian or Alaska Native 1% | Middle Eastern or North African 1% | Other 3% | 5% chose not to answer
Gender: Male 20% Women 78% Non-binary/third gender 0% | 2% chose not to answer