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Why Giving Up New Year's Resolutions Is Helping My Anxiety

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I’ve been making New Year’s resolutions every year for as long as I remember, but the motivation for them usually fizzles out within a couple of weeks. Two years ago, I resolved to learn a new task or skill every week for the rest of the year. I think I made about three weeks in and then promptly forgot about it as life was taking its toll. And when that happened, it felt like a failure, even though no one knew about it and I didn’t have anything to prove. 

Because of my anxiety, every mishap can feel like a complete failure and that it’s the end of the world, even though my rational mind knows this is not the case. Life is hard and difficult, and the older I get, the more responsibility I have: saving up for my own place, talking to my parents about having my own personal space despite living at home, learning not to become obsessed with eating habits when my life feels like it’s unravelling… and when I fail to achieve a goal, no matter how small, it’s easy to feel like I’m a complete failure after all.

Which leads us to New Year’s. This year, my resolution is to not make any resolution. Why?

If you Google “resolution,” one definition is: the action of solving a problem. I am not a problem to be solved, and I am not broken. I know resolutions exist for a reason. It’s easy to “start fresh” with the whole “new year, new me” mentality. And with that same logic, many people vow not to start new habits or challenges until the first of a month or the next Monday. I used to do the same — only to get nervous and anxious and fear failure, leading me to drop out of change completely.

I am not obligated to be the same person I was five minutes ago. This New Year’s, I vow to focus on the now. To take each decision and challenge as it comes and to learn that everything is a process and has a learning curve. To try and control my anxiety rather than let my anxiety control me.

This year, I am vowing not to make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t need there to be a new me. I am learning to accept that it is OK to be the same me, and if I choose to make any changes, it is because that is my choice.

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Originally published: December 23, 2016
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