It’s that time again: we’ve just ushered in the new year, so everyone and their uncle is sharing their New Year’s resolutions. But not me, no – not this year. It was only a few short years ago (2017 seems so far away, doesn’t it?) that I decided to give making a list of New Year’s resolutions a go again, but I’m already ‘giving up’ on it. Just like I did on all those intentions I’d set myself for the year. If you’re looking for a new way to look at setting goals or starting a new year, look no further!
Let me start off by saying that the whole idea behind New Year’s resolutions is actually not such a terrible one; there’s no denying that it’s good to maybe sit down and reflect on the past year to pinpoint the areas that might need some improvement, or the things you want to take with you in the new year. Life often feels like it’s moving at 100 miles/hour, and there never seems to be any time to sit down and reflect, but this time of year is generally a good time to do just that.
The problem arises when we put too much importance on one specific date, namely January 1st, to come up with this list and then give ourselves a full year to work on every single one of them. Let’s face it, for most of us that can be a little overwhelming, which usually means we give up on these ‘resolutions’ pretty easily. For some, that happens after only a few weeks, and some lucky ones might last a couple of months – but, if we’re being completely honest, does anyone ever actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions for the entire duration of the year? I, for one, definitely don’t. One of the reasons for that is that we’re usually not committed enough, because it ends up being a quick list we come up with at the very last minute. The main reason, however, is that twelve months is just too long a time period to commit yourself to. A lot can happen in one year and you never know what curveballs life is going to throw at you. Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions becomes irrelevant because of an unexpected event, or it gets taken out of your hands completely. Or maybe, just maybe, you wake up one day and realise that you actually don’t really care all that much about whatever resolutions you came up with at the start of the year. And that’s completely okay, but we’ll usually feel like we’re obligated to stick to them regardless.
Another issue with placing this much importance on January 1st is that people usually wait for that specific date to commit to making changes. Whereas, in reality, you can start on any given day. You can start tomorrow if you want, or even right this very second, and it won’t have any negative consequences. On the contrary: you’re probably going to get a lot more done if you stop waiting for that start of the year and just get started as soon as possible. And even if you’ve set yourself some New Year’s resolutions, you’re allowed to make changes – maybe you’ve noticed that losing weight isn’t actually that high on your list of priorities after all. That’s totally okay. We have this idea of ‘failing’ our New Year’s resolutions, but maybe you just figured out they weren’t the right fit. Sometimes you need to try something on to realise it’s not for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, sometimes we also just give up on a resolution or, as I mentioned before, we simply forget because we have so much other stuff going on and so much time has passed, but it’s totally possible that you’re just not feeling it anymore. Setting a long term resolution like that may make us feel forced to stick it out anyway, which isn’t really gonna benefit anyone.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese proverb
There’s also the possibility of falling into the trap of clichés. Because this is the time of year where everyone is coming up with a gazillion different things they want to change about themselves, it’s so easy to just go with the flow and set yourself a few goals that may be popular, but aren’t necessarily what you actually need. To set yourself useful goals, you’re going to need to do some introspection. Really look at what you need, not what you think would be an ‘acceptable’ resolution according to the people around you or society in general. If you’re genuinely interested in making a change and not just jumping on the hype train because it’s the start of the new year and ‘it’s just what you do, y’know?’, then I would highly recommend you to just set yourself short-term goals. Look at what needs changing right now, and then start working on that.
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at always doing this. I fall into the trap of waiting until tomorrow, or Monday, or even the first of the next month. I need to give myself time to prepare, y’know, to ~plan~. But I do recognise that those are just excuses, ways to procrastinate putting in actual effort. And I have recently started to try and get away from that. It’s been a bit of an uphill battle so far, not gonna lie – because letting go of old habits is hard. But I do feel like I’m making progress, and setting myself attainable, realistic, short-term goals is a huge part of what makes it work.
Have you set yourself any resolutions this year? Or are you more interested in setting yourself tangible short-term goals? Let me know in the comments down below, as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll see you again next week with a new blog post!