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Why My New Year's Resolution Is No More Resolutions

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Like many others, I’ve always seen the beginning of a new year as a chance to redeem myself for whatever failures accumulated from the year before. The days before and after that magical strike of midnight fill our newsfeeds with so much positivity and motivation, it’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in it.

So hey, I can do it too, right? You sit and reflect on your year and figure out what one thing is going to make the next year the best year yet. Maybe it’s going back to school to get that degree. Or losing a bunch of weight before your high school reunion. Perhaps it’s becoming more of a people person. There are so many options. Google “New Year’s resolutions” and your screen will probably be filled with lists of everything people hate about themselves.

So. there it is. You’ve made up your mind, your one goal for next year. You declare your intent for the world (the internet) to see and get pumped up for the year ahead. The first few days are great. You stick to your goals. Maybe you get a membership to the gym, plan out your college career, make a clean cut to veganism — who knows. “This is the year,” you tell yourself. It’s all going to be different.

Then, reality sets in. You realize it’s not that easy to get up every morning at the crack of dawn to go for a run. Or maybe it’s too hard to go to college full-time while juggling kids and a full-time job. You overslept and forgot to pack your plant-based lunch and caved for a bite of a friend’s ham sandwich while on lunch break. That first day leads to another, and next thing you know, you’re back at the drive-thru ordering a burger, you’re withdrawing your college application or maybe you’ve canceled your gym membership.

You “failed.” It’s such a defeating feeling. And then those feelings of self-pity, guilt and shame waft over you like a crashing wave. It’s so easy to get lost in the negativity of the world. And just like that, you’re too far gone, thinking it’s too late to make your resolution work, so better luck next year.

This is why I hate New Year’s resolutions. Why make one day a year the only time to change yourself? Why add so much pressure? It makes it so much harder to stick to something when there is that much hype built up around it, and it makes it even more devastating when you don’t succeed right away. I mean, who decided January was the only time to make goals?

So, here’s my resolution: no more resolutions. No more ultimatums. No more sacrificing your sanity trying to keep up with everyone else. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself, but please still make goals for yourself. The whole point of this isn’t too discourage you from creating dreams and goals for yourself, but to stop putting so much pressure on those goals you make. We’ve all heard, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” right? As cheesy as it is, it packs some truth. Too many of us, myself included, tend to give up at first signs of failure.

Create smaller goals for yourself and work on them every day. Plan a meatless Monday instead of transitioning cold turkey. Take the stairs instead of the elevator once in a while, or park your car farther down the parking lot when you go to the store. There are so many smaller things you can change in your life that don’t take too much time or effort and can still help you reach your goals.

Take it one day at a time. If you have a bad day and don’t reach your goals, it’s OK. Breathe, dust your shoulders off and try again. After all, tomorrow is a new day.

Unsplash image by Tony Ross

Originally published: January 13, 2020
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