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Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work with IBD

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The end of the year is always that special time where people start reflecting on the past 350-ish days and planning for the next 365. It’s a time where many of us love to write out goals for the upcoming New Year — some might call them “resolutions.”

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To me, that’s a tired term. The days of “resolving” to do something different, better, or new coming January 1 is very circa 2009. 

The whole “New Year, New You” aspirational headline is dated as well. Instead, these misplaced platitudes have been replaced with objectives to love ourselves as we are and pursue fun new adventures next year… not ways to fix what we didn’t fix this year. The focus is on happiness on our terms, not someone else’s.

For me, this is why the idea of resolutions never really worked for someone living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). First of all, they’re cliche and not original at all anymore. Second, the idea of putting a list together — which is really a glorified to-do list to stress you out — was just 10 more things to complete to make sure I was a functioning member of society.

Sure, for the more “high-functioning” type A personalities out there, maybe a to-do list each January 1 is a motivational nudge to grab the New Year by the horns and get moving. But for the majority of us living with Crohn’s or UC, it’s simply added pressure to do things to appear a certain way to the world… not to take care of who we are to ourselves.

Third, IBD warriors don’t need to make a list to kick off another 365 days of life. For my community, simply celebrating the small wins along the way — a clear colonoscopy, no blood in the stool, a solid stool, exercising, waking up, spreading awareness, a good doctor’s visit, a feel-good day — is what it’s always been about.

Of course, the end of the year invites us all to reflect by its sheer nature of marking a big “end” and a new “start,” but why do we (or anyone) need to celebrate the occasion by creating more things to focus on for the next 12 months? Why can’t the resolution be to simply… continue? Why do things always need to be a “do-over” rather than a “keep-doing?” 

For me, I don’t want to start fresh and pretend the last year wasn’t good enough or things need to change or improve. I want to keep moving forward with the momentum I’ve worked so hard to create while living with an incurable condition.

That’s my resolution to myself every single day of my life. What’s yours?

Originally published: December 6, 2022
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