Got a resolution? Why wait for the New Year?

The problem was he could never keep them. “I
was one of those people who went to the gym on Jan 2,” said Boughen, 28, who
works for a communications agency in Ontario. A couple of weeks later, he said,
“they never saw my face again.”

Sometime this past summer, it dawned on him
that he could approach things differently. Rather than wait until the first day
of the new year to overhaul his habits, he would try and make small,
incremental changes. If he missed a run one morning, he would go for a walk
after dinner instead. He would try to eat a few meals at home where he could
control the ingredients and make sure they were healthy.

Most important, messing up one day didn’t mean
giving up completely. “If I don’t hit a goal one day, I just try again the next
day,” he said. “It’s a much better strategy than waiting until the new year to
try again.”

The new year is almost here, and with it,
myriad resolutions. But some millennials and Gen Zers are abandoning the
tradition, opting instead to work on themselves year-round or the moment they
realize they need to change. If they really want to do things differently, they
figure, why wait for Jan. 1?

Boughen pointed out that the reason many
people don’t accomplish their goals is because they procrastinate. “A lot of us
find ourselves always pushing things off,” he said. “I always say I will start
on Monday, or I will start in the new year. That was toxic for me.”

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Noah Schnable, 20, a student at Southern New
Hampshire University, also found himself pushing off his goals of becoming a
well-known game streamer. “To do what I want, I need to stream at least three
or four hours a day,” he said. “But I definitely have a procrastination issue
where I put everything off until the next day.”

He thought about making a New Year’s
resolution but ultimately decided the only way to achieve his goals was to
start immediately. “Now when I find myself saying I’ll stream tomorrow or a
little bit later in the week, I just say to myself, ‘Actually, you have time to
do it now,’” he said.

Another benefit to this strategy is that he is
going to feel much more confident going into 2022 knowing he’s already made
progress on his dreams. “On New Year’s, I will hopefully have a really good
feeling that I have already started on my goals,” he said. “It feels good to
know I am already on my way.”

Other young people are being realistic about
what they need to accomplish a lasting change — and it isn’t a trendy New
Year’s resolution.

Abbey Phaneuf, 22, who lives in New York and
is a marketing associate at Loftie, a company that makes consumer goods to help
people sleep better, said that every year she feels pressure to make a

“I get a lot of TikToks that are about workout
routines and how to change your body in a month and what you should be eating,”
she said. “I think people see other people trying to become the best versions
of themselves, and they feel like they should do the same.”

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But she knows that in order to really change
her life, she has to want to go deep within; it can’t just be something she is
doing because of groupthink. “If you are just going to the gym because of
something you saw on TikTok, that isn’t sustainable.”

She’s skipping the whole resolution thing this
year. Instead, she’s focusing on making the change she wants — participating in
more activities in New York City — gradually. “I’ve been looking up things for
a while — running clubs and volunteering,” she said. “It’s an ongoing goal of
mine, and I’m going to do it when I’m ready.”

Emily Mooshian, 27, a proofreader in
Haverhill, Massachusetts, also used to feel pressure to declare a resolution on
New Year’s. “I’ve always viewed a New Year’s resolution as something I have to
do because everyone else is doing it,” she said. “But I also feel like this is
stupid. I’m not going to stick with it if I’m doing it because everyone else

That’s why this year she decided to work on
herself on her own schedule.

In October she started feeling burned out because
she was doing too many favors for people. She was helping plan surprise
birthday parties for friends and going on trips she didn’t really want to
attend. “I decided I was going to have a New Year’s resolution to say ‘no’ more
often and take care of my mental health,” she said. And she was determined not
to wait until the first day of 2022 to start.

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So far, she already turned down a trip to
Nashville, Tennessee, over the holidays and said no to a friend who wanted her
to dog sit. “If I would have waited until January to start my resolution, I
would have said yes to these things and been exhausted,” she said. “Now I feel
good sooner.”

Like Mooshian, other people think their
resolutions are so important that they can’t wait.

Jarrett Adlof, 34, a pop punk musician in
Dallas, has felt so much negativity in the world this year. “We’ve all been
through such an awful two years,” he wrote in an email. “I need more positivity
going into 2022. I can’t let these last few weeks beat me down on the way.”

That’s why he decided to start his resolution
— to mute accounts on social media that are mostly posting negative thoughts —
in the middle of December, rather than wait until the new year.

“I’ve muted a couple, and that’s a start,” he
said. “I feel great.”

©2022 The New York Times Company

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