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  • Writer's pictureJasmine Wilson, LCSW

Embracing Imperfection: Redefining New Year's Resolutions for Young Adults

Updated: Feb 27

As another year comes to an end, the time for New Year's resolutions has arrived! This long-embraced tradition helps us reflect on our goals and motivates us to improve, but it can also trigger anxiety and stress.

A group of young adults celebrate New Years as confetti falls from the ceiling. Learn how to set attainable New Year's resolutions in Life Transitions Therapy in La Mirada, CA.

New Year's: Grand Plans That Often Fall Through

Around this time of year, many of us jot down grand plans: we promise to eat salads for every meal, wake up at 5 am every morning, and commit to conquering the world before March rolls in. But let's face it, most of the time, these resolutions crumble before we ever fully achieve them. In this blog, we're looking into why many of us fall short of our New Year’s resolutions and providing a different approach, specifically for young adults. We’ll cover everything from setting realistic goals, practicing flexibility and self-compassion, to managing New Year’s resolutions anxiety.

The Pressure of Perfection

Have you ever wondered why so many of us fall short of our New Year’s resolutions? Well, one major reason is that the goals we’re setting are too big, all-encompassing, and maybe even completely unrealistic. We think that in order to achieve our goals quickly and to become our ideal selves faster, we need to make big sweeping changes – for example, “I will work out every day for one hour a day,” or “I will eat healthy every day.”

Leave Some Wiggle Room for Setbacks

Whether it’s getting healthy, finding a life partner, or achieving financial stability, expecting perfection toward your resolutions is a perfect recipe for failure and disappointment, because it leaves no “wiggle room" for setbacks and doesn’t take into account that building healthy habits takes small, sustainable changes.

Two young adults go for a run on a sunny day representing people who have practiced goal setting strategies learned in Life Transitions Counseling in La Mirada, CA.

Setting Realistic Goals

The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. The key to a successful and fulfilling New Year's resolution journey is setting realistic goals. Instead of aiming for monumental, life-altering changes, why not embrace the idea of achievable, healthy resolutions? Think about it—small, specific, and attainable goals can lead to more significant transformations over time.

Set Small Achievable Goals

For instance, instead of committing to run a marathon when you've never jogged a block around your neighborhood, why not set a goal to run a 5K race? It's specific, measurable, and attainable. This approach sets you up for success and avoids the disappointment of setting impossible goals.

Embracing Flexibility

Now let’s talk about flexibility. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes our best-laid plans get derailed. But that's okay! Embracing imperfection means understanding that life happens. Instead of rigidly clinging to our resolutions, we should be open to adjustments and refinements along the way.

Let Resolutions Be Your Compass

Consider your resolutions as more of a compass than a rigid map. As life circumstances change, don't be afraid to adapt. You might find that your initial resolution to hit the gym every single day needs some tweaking when your school or workload suddenly doubles. And that's perfectly okay! It's not about perfection; it's about progress.

A young adult practices meditation as part of her New Year's resolution learned in Life Transitions Therapy in La Mirada, CA.


Speaking of progress, it's essential to be kind to yourself along the way. Self-compassion can be a powerful ally on your resolution journey. We often fall into the trap of self-criticism when we encounter setbacks. Instead of being critical and judgmental of yourself, try treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you'd offer a friend.

Remember, you're human, and it's entirely normal to stumble on the path to self-improvement. When those moments come, practice self-compassion, and remind yourself that it's okay to not be perfect.

Why Does the New Year Trigger Anxiety for Young Adults?

As a young adult, you may be transitioning from college to career, taking on more responsibilities, and embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Naturally, these life transitions can shift your values and priorities, making it the perfect time to reflect on what’s important and what needs improvement. However, all the pressure you might already be feeling to make big life decisions can intensify and trigger anxiety when you add New Year’s resolutions to the mix.

Here are some of our tried-and-true tips for dealing with New Year's resolutions anxiety:

1.Start Small:

Rather than overwhelming yourself with grandiose resolutions, break them down into smaller, manageable steps. This makes progress more achievable and less intimidating. For example, if you want to make exercise a thing, try working out for 15 – 30 minutes a few times a week. You can gradually build on this goal by adding more time to your workout sessions or increasing the number of workout sessions per week.

2. Be Specific: 

Make your resolutions clear and specific. Concrete goals are easier to work toward and measure progress against. For instance, if you want to prioritize sleep coming into the new year, be specific by setting a detailed sleep routine and a specific bedtime.

3. Embrace Flexibility:

Life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change. It's okay to adapt your resolutions as needed, as long as they still align with your values and aspirations.

4. Practice Self-Compassion:

Be kind to yourself. Understand that setbacks are a natural part of personal growth. Don't be too hard on yourself if you stumble along the way.

5. Set Realistic Timelines: 

Give yourself enough time to work toward your goals. Meaningful change often takes time, and setting unrealistic deadlines can create unnecessary stress.

6. Seek Support: 

Sharing your resolutions with friends, family, or a support network can provide encouragement and accountability. They can cheer you on and help you stay on track.

A young woman stands confidently leaning against a wall. She has learned goal setting strategies in Therapy for Life Transitions in La Mirada, CA.

Embracing Imperfection Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety


All in all, New Year's resolutions don't have to be a source of stress and anxiety. By embracing imperfection, setting realistic goals, staying flexible, and practicing self-compassion, young adults can redefine their approach to resolutions. Remember, it's not about perfection—it's about progress, growth, and self-improvement. So, let's ditch the pressure, celebrate our imperfections, and embark on a journey towards healthier, more attainable New Year's resolutions.

Don't Let the Specter of Setting New Year's Resolutions Start Your Year Off on the Wrong Foot. Reach Out to a Young Adult Therapist in Brea, CA.

Looking for additional guidance in setting and achieving your New Year’s resolutions? Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services is here to support you along your journey. We understand the unique challenges that young adults face in navigating the stress and anxiety of young adulthood and offer online therapy options in California and Arizona. Follow the steps below to get started:

Other Therapy Services Offered at Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services in Brea, La Mirada, and Online Throughout CA + AZ

​In addition to Therapy for Life Transitions, Jasmine offers a variety of services designed to meet you exactly where you are in your life. Jasmine offers Therapy for Anxiety and Self-Esteem, as well as Individual Therapy and Group Therapy options. Reach out today!

Learn more about Jasmine's background, training, and approach to therapy here

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