Ditching Resolutions: Why We’re Saying ‘No’ to New Year’s Resolutions and ‘Yes’ to Real Transformation

by | Jan 8, 2024 | Perfectionism

Ever feel like New Year’s resolutions are more of a burden than a boost? Wondering why you can’t figure out how to get them to stick and finally be your best self?

You’re not alone. We’ve had enough of hollow, short-lived resolutions that fizzle out almost instantaneously like zebra fruit stripe gum (remember that stuff?). It’s why we’re leaving them behind and debunking the myth that personal growth hinges on setting resolutions.

The Anti-Resolution Approach to Personal Growth

We’re not doing resolutions this year, and you don’t have to either.

For some of you, you just felt your entire body exhale. For others, the mere thought of dropping resolutions makes your skin crawl.

I get it.

I work with high-achievers and perfectionists, and I hear all the time about how they don’t want to become complacent and they’re afraid of their life becoming stagnant. They always want to be growing, improving, progressing, doing.

I’ve been there. When I was deep in my perfectionist, high-achieving era, I would say “if you’re not growing you’re dying.” I didn’t yet know that it’s okay to also just exist. 

And don’t get me wrong, the pursuit of growth and learning are wonderful values. There is absolutely a place for setting goals and intentions. Doing so can serve as a compass that provides clarity about what matters to you and the direction in which you’re steering your life.

However (and this is a big however), I see the opposite happening with perfectionists and high-achievers when they get to work on their list of resolutions. Instead of propelling them forward, resolutions:

  • Contribute to their burnout.
  • Feed into their imposter syndrome.
  • Increase procrastination.
  • Intensify self-criticism.
  • Leave them feeling lost and starving for confidence about how to move forward.

And here’s why…

Trauma is any experience that overwhelms your body's ability to cope.

Why Resolutions Don’t Work

You’re looking for your worth in external things. You’re searching outside of yourself for confirmation that you’re good enough, desirable, likable, that you matter, that you have value.

Except you keep chasing, and the harsh inner dialogue doesn’t quiet. The self-doubt doesn’t get any smaller. You don’t actually like yourself more.

Sound familiar? You set your long list of to-do’s and resolutions, thinking this time it will work. Then when you can’t sustain the unrealistic list of resolutions you’ve set for yourself, you fizzle out. And this once shiny list of resolutions becomes a self-fulling prophecy perpetuating the not-enough narratives you were working so hard to outrun in the first place. 

Cue shame. You beat yourself up because you’re in this familiar place once again. You’re not able to follow through or see improvement yet again, and you conclude that it must mean you’re incompetent, lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined.

Here’s the deal though: None of those are true of you. And no matter how hard you may try, you cannot shame your way into change, growth, progress, or wholeness. Think of it as your personal kryptonite.

Resolutions backfire when you're using them to find your worth.

Embracing Sustainable Growth

“Be your best self” we hear, and setting resolutions seems like the logical conclusion for figuring out how to get there. But what if your best self isn’t a perfect one? What if being your best self is about being whole?

Growth happens gradually. So what does it look like to embrace this in a sustainable way, allowing for ebbs and flows, times of movement and times of rest?

Perhaps we can take our cues from nature which models so well how completely acceptable it is to simply exist, and to stop hustling and striving so fucking much. Winter (for the most part) is a season of things lying dormant and resting. How ironic that in the very same season, society has decided it’s time to get to work…I wonder if it’s actually the opposite.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t invite you to stop and consider: Who benefits from this resolution trend? Who benefits from you constantly being a DIY-project?

Have you slowed down to consider how oppressive this practice actually is? The same systems in our society contributing to your not-enough narratives (lookin’ at your capitalism, racism, sexism, ableism…) are the same ones benefiting from keeping you on this New Year’s resolution hamster wheel. It’s radical to decide to stop spinning and instead embrace a more organic, self-compassionate growth journey. 

What if being your best self is about being whole instead of perfect?

What to Try Instead of Resolutions

It might be time to examine what’s fueling your resolution setting. Is it truly a healthy pursuit of growth, or is it a way of trying to outrun your fear of not being enough? 

Asking yourself the following may illuminate for you what your resolution setting is rooted in:

  • What do your resolutions sound like? Are they kind or harsh?
  • Do your resolutions empower you to embrace the fullness of your personhood (limitations and all), or do they require you to abandon yourself?
  • Does the practice of setting resolutions temporarily allow you to escape the difficulties of your circumstances (that actually need to be felt rather than pushed away with premature resolutions) instead of deal with them?

For many of us, we need self-love and acceptance rather than another round of resolutions. And the act of self-love is itself an invitation into growth and wholeness that often gets ignored.

Can you recognize the goodness already present in you and your life and start there?

Instead of resolutions, what might it be like to explore what already exists that you’re grateful for? That you want to expand or cultivate more of? That you want to maintain? What do you need more or less of to maintain the goodness that’s already present?

Your body did exactly what it needed to in order to survive.

Next Steps: New Year, Same Amazing You

May 2024 be the year you stop striving for your worth and start living into the goodness that’s already true about you. Starting with saying goodbye to resolutions, and introducing other strategies to embrace growth and healing. You deserve it.

If exchanging resolutions for self-love is new for you, or combining goals with grace seems like a foreign concept, you’re not alone. We’re here to support you in embracing change in a sustainable way. Get started by following these 3 simple steps:


  1. Schedule a free 20-minute consult call at a time that’s convenient for you.
  2. Book your first appointment as soon as you’re ready and get connected with a Colorado trauma and anxiety therapist at Fio Counseling.
  3. Find support to finally break free from perfectionism!
Your body did exactly what it needed to in order to survive.

About the Author: Ali Arteaga, LPCC

Ali Arteaga (she/her) is a trauma therapist and the founder of Fio Counseling, a mental health therapy practice in Colorado. With a passion for connection, compassion, and curiosity, Ali is dedicated to helping her clients reclaim their lives from trauma and live abundant, authentic lives.

Embracing her own healing journey through complex trauma led Ali to devote her life to helping others feel at home within themselves. She’s been there (personally and professionally) and is a gentle, compassionate guide helping you find your way back to you.

Ali honors the uniqueness of your story and meets you where you’re at. She weaves in evidenced-based modalities such as Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy and somatic therapy into her work with clients.