New Year

The psychology of New Year’s resolutions

Natashya Gutierrez

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The psychology of New Year’s resolutions
For us, 2024 is a significant temporal milestone. It’s the year we want to refocus our priorities to what matters the most: amplifying innovation and experimentation, expanding our investigative reporting, and best serving our communities: you.

2024 is finally upon us, after a year that felt surreal in many ways. The new year brings an innate desire for change and improvement, and the chance to start anew.

Hello, I’m Natashya Gutierrez, president of Rappler. I first joined Rappler over a decade ago, as part of the newsroom’s first dozen employees. I started off as a multimedia reporter, and later became Rappler Indonesia’s bureau chief and Southeast Asia correspondent. I left in 2018 to join VICE as its Asia-Pacific editor-in-chief, ultimately returning to Rappler in October last year. 

At university, I was a psychology major and I have always been fascinated by the way the human mind works. Research shows that humans across all cultures use “temporal milestones” when they want to turn a fresh page – whether it’s the start of a semester, or a new week (which is why so many of us start diets on a Monday…) or perhaps a momentous life event like a birthday. But there is no clearer temporal milestone than the New Year. 

Behavioral scientists call this “the fresh start effect,” when a marker in time makes us feel we can mentally wipe the slate clean, and can separate our past selves from our future, aspirational version of ourselves. 

Enter New Year’s resolutions. 

One study followed 200 New Year’s resolvers and found that resolutions largely revolved around weight loss and changing bad habits like smoking, but it also included aspirations like improving relationships. Results showed that one week into the new year, 77% of participants had maintained their resolutions, 55% after one month, 43% after three months, 40% after six months, and just 19% after two years. 

In an interview, Dr. Tim Kurz, a senior lecturer in social psychology from the School of Psychological Science at the University of Western Australia, shares advice on what makes resolutions stick. Some of them include creating goals that are beneficial to others rather than individualistic goals (so you are not only letting yourself down but others too if you falter); focusing on “approach goals” or things you will do, rather than “avoid goals” or things you’ll stop doing; and making sure the goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

I’ve kept this in mind when crafting my own personal resolutions for 2024, and it’s also the same mindset we’ve taken as we created our own resolutions at Rappler. 

For us, 2024 is a significant temporal milestone. It’s the year we want to refocus our priorities to what matters the most: amplifying innovation and experimentation, expanding our investigative reporting, and best serving our communities: you.

Our North Star

It has been 12 years since the first dozen of us launched the Rappler website in 2012. 

In the last few months, I’ve sat down and spoken to as many Rapplers as I can, some old employees and lots of new faces, from our reporters to our finance managers to our sales teams. What I’ve learned is that it’s a different organization from the one I left in 2018, having been through relentless press freedom attacks and fighting for survival, but in some ways is still the same – its core values intact, its overarching goal of doing good, unchanged. 

I’ve worked closely with our leadership team to rethink Rappler’s purpose and mission, presented it to the whole organization for feedback and comments, and together, carved out our next steps. 

I’m excited to unveil our new mission statement, our North Star, as we enter the New Year. It’s one we worked on together, as a company, and one we are proud of. 

For 2024 and beyond, this is our goal: To empower changemakers with impactful journalism and meaningful innovation.

We define changemakers as those who want to positively impact their communities – whether they are policymakers or leaders, or young people who stand up for what’s right. We want our reporting to inspire action and to hold power to account. And we want to use technology and implement ideas with purpose. 

These are all things we’ve valued and have been doing, but in 2024 and beyond, we want to do more of it. To achieve this, we’ve taken Dr. Kurz’s advice: We’ve set quarterly goals and internal metrics, understanding that the longer term goals will take time, and we’ve set clear action plans on how to get there. 

And we’ve started strong. 

A few weeks ago, we launched Rappler Communities in our revamped Rappler app to give us all a space where we can have healthy online discussions without being attacked. (Do download it on iOS or  Android if you haven’t already!) We’ve released some valuable reporting locally including this exclusive on an abduction linked to a military agent, and on international affairs, like this in-depth profile on Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s millennial son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who could become the new vice president. 

Internally, we are dedicated to making Rappler a fun place to work, a healthy environment that is rich with support, purpose, and joy. We also have some projects and events in store that we cannot wait to share with you in the coming months.

Our mission statement is a lofty aspiration and it will be an arduous journey to get there, one that we cannot do alone. We want to continually hear from you, our audience, our partners, the changemakers of our time, and know how we can best continue to work with and serve you. My email is open to all types of feedback and communication at natashya.gutierrez@rappler.com – even your personal New Year resolutions.

May we all seize the fresh start effect, be part of that elusive 19% of successful New Year’s resolvers two years from now, and ultimately become better versions of ourselves. 

Happy 2024, changemakers. The more of us who can stick to our New Year’s resolutions, the better our world will be. – Rappler.com

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.