New years goals for teens and adults can vary, simply due to different stages of life. For some, a new years resolution centers around weight lost, picking up a new hobby, or even getting treatment for mental health.
And for millions of Americans, a new year often comes with new goals and resolutions. But is that a good thing? Most new years resolutions fail to uphold their commitment, which would usually indicate that it isn’t just a question of willpower. Why is it so hard to do the things you should want to do?
The answer, in most cases, is that you don’t really want to do them. New years resolutions typically fail because people tend to select goals that reflect what they should do or be, rather than what they want. It makes little sense to set a goal for yourself that is not ultimately tied to an activity or result that you truly enjoy or crave. Teens struggle with this just as much as adults do.
You Don’t Need to Start Today
A lot of people fail to commit to their new year’s resolutions because they started working on their goals on January 1st, rather than when they were ready. Someone who dives headfirst into a goal without the necessary preparation is more likely to struggle as a result.
Going back to the popular gym and fitness example, you might feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, and it becomes impossible to tell the difference between good and bad advice. Instead, use January as your exploratory month.
Do your research. Consult different experts. Formulate a concrete first goal. Determine what you need to establish your starting position – equipment, setting, space, and community resources. And then, get started in February or March once you’ve answered your day one questions.
New Years Goals for Teens in 2023
Goals that mean something to you – that are linked to your interests or guided by intrinsic motivation – are less likely to fail. Here are some concrete and productive new years goals for teens that you can work toward achieving this year for a better you and to improve your mental health too!
1. Set a Small Screen Time Limit
Excessive screen time is a risk factor for mental health and exacerbates symptoms of depression, lowered self-esteem, and anxiety. You don’t need to go cold turkey on social media or delete Discord from your phone. But do consider keeping a closer eye on your daily computer and smartphone usage, tracking your hours on screens, and setting realistic goals to minimize or introduce breaks for both mental and physical health.
Use those breaks to do something you enjoy – listen to music without looking at a screen, read a physical book, go on a walk, or spend some time gardening. If you have pets, take on more pet-related chores and responsibilities – these can be almost meditative and give you more time to bond with your favorite fur buddy.
2. Dedicate More Time to the Outdoors
Whether it’s something substantial like a monthly hiking trip or just a weekly drive out to the nearest national park for a quick jog or leisurely walk, being outside and in nature can do wonders for both your physical and your mental well-being. Try introducing a few extra nature trips or long walks through the woods into your life this year.
3. Place a Premium on Good Sleep
Sleep hygiene gets emphasized heavily in nearly every single one of these posts and articles, and for a good reason. Everything we do is contextualized by how well-rested we are. Cognitively, socially, and physically, our performance in nearly any aspect of life is colored at least partially by the quality of our sleep.
Making a commitment to head to bed earlier than usual is a good start, but it’s almost impossible to implement. Start with habits that will help you tire out more easily: make sure your room is usually cool and dark in the evenings, rely on warmer lights, cut out blue lights or screens before bed, quit caffeine in the afternoons, and exercise.
4. Go To Therapy (With a Friend)
Mental health treatment is not scary. Nor is it painful. But it is stigmatized, and many teens remain unconvinced that they need or should consider seeking professional help, even as their symptoms get worse.
However, reaching out for help and learning to take care of your mental health are great new years goals for teens. If you think you may be struggling with a mental health condition that is affecting your studies, your relationships, and your day-to-day life, taking the first step toward therapy will be tremendously helpful. But if you need that extra push, consider asking a friend to go with you.
5. Move A Little Bit More
There is more to exercise than running track and field, lifting weights, or going for a swim. Embrace movement in some shape or form, whatever it may be.
We’re ultimately not built to be sedentary for long periods of time, and once you find a form of movement that you enjoy, you can massively improve your general quality of life and regain control over your body.
6. Quit Deprecation
It may just be something small – like insulting yourself in the mirror, berating yourself for trying something or putting yourself down for buying something – but try to make a commitment towards stopping all forms of self-deprecation this year.
Don’t make jokes at your own expense, insult yourself when you’re alone or with others, or take your anger out on your own body. Whenever you feel the urge to say something mean, swallow it – and try to say something positive, anything positive, instead.
7. Try One New Thing
It could be crocheting, pottery, learning to bake, making bread, or even Japanese gunpla. New hobbies are not just an opportunity to expand your interests but an opportunity to meet new people, explore new ideas, find new outlets for stress, and even change your worldview.
A new years resolution can be an impetus for self-improvement and change. But it’s not enough to commit yourself to a vague goal on January 1st without more of a personal connection. It’s important to personalize your goals and pick a realistic approach.
Setting Realistic New Years Goals for Teens
Let’s say, for example, that you have always hated gym class, don’t enjoy most sports, and have spent most of high school being sedentary and enjoying non-athletic hobbies.
You have no personal interest in physical fitness and no real intrinsic motivation to go and begin your gym transformation. You have no concrete knowledge of where to begin in the gym, no foundation of strength or fitness, and no idea whether to prioritize cardio over weights or which supplements to take or ignore.
None of that changes from the night of the 31st into the morning of the 1st.
But, if you are interested in getting fit, you can take your general interest and begin adapting it to more specific, intrinsic motivation. Perhaps there’s a specific fictional character you wish to look like.
There’s probably some merchandise you can wear to help you relate your exercise regimen to that character, like a themed training shirt, hoodie, or shaker. Start your training sessions with arousing music from your favorite game or show. Begin consuming more fitness content that you relate to, or have an interest in. Find exercises that you do enjoy doing.
The Power of Goals
Goals can be powerful tools, but they can also backfire heavily. If your mental and physical well-being is important to you, then setting goals that are achievable should come before setting goals that are aspirational.
For more information about treatment for teen mental health, contact Visions Treatment Centers.