Graphic by Billy Kirchgessner / North by Northwestern

In polling several friends’ New Year’s resolutions, I found everything ranging from “wake up before 11:00 a.m. every day,” to “be more friendly.” Some were attainable – just set an alarm before 10:59 each morning. Others were more ambiguous. How exactly does one “become more friendly”?

Many resolutions are made without an actual plan for how to achieve them, leading to unavoidable failure and guilt. The cycle of making and breaking them is not new; it’s an often dreaded part of the start of the new year that rarely goes challenged. Until now.

TikToker Eli Rallo, who makes videos about rules for various aspects of daily life, put up a challenge to New Year’s resolution culture. In her “Rules for New Year’s Resolutions” video, the first bullet point on the list was, “We’re not doing them.” Her reasoning? The word “resolution” is toxic.



♬ original sound - Eli Rallo by The Jarr

In essence, she is saying that the word is too black and white. It doesn’t prescribe a process of attaining and maintaining progress on a goal. It is simply do or don’t, and when people don’t, it often plunges them further back on their path to progress or discourages them entirely.

What Rallo advocated for instead were New Year’s “aspirations” – more of an ambition than a must-do. She offered a more hopeful outlook on the path toward achieving goals in the new year, one that doesn’t result in just a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ or a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcome. Even if the type of goal doesn’t change – you can still focus on incorporating healthier foods or exercising more each week – the mindset changes. The change in wording emphasizes the process rather than the end result. There’s no real end-product you’re even working toward; you’re simply focusing on adding new things into your daily life that can help you grow.

Rallo also advocated for six different types of aspiration categories: lifestyle, emotional health, intellectual health, social life, hobby, and “the big challenge.” The idea behind this tactic is to not focus on one way to transform your life in the new year, but several. It helps to support growth in all areas of your life rather than just one. The multi-aspirational approach serves to ease some of the pressure behind setting a goal – a holistic approach to goal-setting, if you will. It again refocuses on the idea of adding new things into your life, creating a process that is more attainable and approachable.

Influencers like Rallo, as well as others like Tinx and Remi Bader, who are trying to change the narrative about personal growth can reshape the cycle of the New Year’s resolution. They can eliminate the need for resoluteness and introduce a new kindness for the year. Many common resolutions are fueled by diet culture and insecurity, but change in the new year should be hopeful. Resolutions should usher in hope, positivity and growth, not encourage us to drastically alter aspects of ourselves.

If change is the end goal, don’t start by asking what you should remove from your life. Instead, ask what you can you add to it. Define the steps of the process and celebrate when you meet them. Perhaps the redefinition of the New Year’s resolution can be the next great thing to come from TikTok.