Rethinking My Resolutions
We’ve all done it at least once. Maybe we’re doing it again this year. Maybe it’s worked before, maybe it hasn’t. The truth is that these things tend to not last very long, or they get replaced by the complications of everyday life.
I’m talking New Years resolutions.
Why do we make them? How exactly do they serve us? Sometimes they only make us feel worse about ourselves, like we’ll never achieve these astronomical goals we set out for ourselves and suddenly we’re wallowing in self loathing. What creates and perpetuates this cycle and how do we break it?
I’ll start with recognizing the effect stress and pressure have on our bodies. When we make a goal it’s supposed to be fun and exciting, right? A goal is a pathway to new opportunities and life experience. When that goal becomes something that you dread thinking about every day because you’ve put too much pressure on yourself to achieve it, then that becomes unhealthy. I’m not saying that New Year’s resolutions are bad and that they don’t work for some people. They may be extremely helpful and motivating for some people. For many, though, they only become another source of unhealthy stress which stems from comparison to others. We see someone preaching a goal they've set for themselves and feel like we should too, when maybe we shouldn't.
What might also happen is a lack of prioritization. We might be extremely motivated come January 1st, but as soon as March comes around we could find ourselves slipping into old habits and forgetting about the goals we had set. Life gets in the way.
New Years resolutions are also known to be quite ambitious. This is not a communal trait, but I see it occur often. The resolution might not be to just increase exercise by x minutes a week but to exercise hours a day and get ripped as soon as possible. It’s not to organize one drawer every month or two months, but to have them all perfectly organized in one day. Being a generation that thrives on instant gratification, we have learned to expect things to be easy for us to earn. The truth is, anything worth having is going to be hard work. It’s just the truth. It’s going to take time—lots of time, probably—and work.
The last fault of resolutions is that they are often related to material values. However, material or aesthetic goals will only satisfy one part of us. To increase our quality of life for the long run, we must attempt to make resolutions that will satisfy our soul.
By this I do in fact mean meditation, yoga, or manifestation. I am also referring, though, to simple kindness. Perhaps an increase in face time and a decrease in screen time. Maybe we can resolve to recycle more and use less. Whatever it is, finding something that satisfies our soul will be much more enriching and maintainable in the long run.
These are not things we have to wait until January 1st to do. If you are thinking about a resolution because maybe you think you need one or you feel unfulfilled, I suggest reconsidering. Perhaps there is a part of you requiring acknowledgement. In that case, you can start today.