For as long as I can remember, during the week leading up to New Year’s Eve, I’ve written in my journal with renewed fervor.
I record the highlights and difficulties of the past year and lay out my goals, dreams, and resolutions for the new year. To find my ideal aesthetic for the upcoming year, I make vision boards by collaging cut-out magazine clippings and Pinterest photos.
While these practices made me feel equipped for the upcoming challenges and excited for new opportunities, I’ve found giving too much weight to New Year’s resolutions always makes me feel deflated.
The public exchange of resolutions and the constant comparisons cause the new year to feel like a competition rather than an exciting, fresh start.
There’s something about the first day of January that makes people intrinsically interested in what their friends want to change about themselves. I can’t think of any other time of the year when it’s customary to sit around the table and go public with our goals to finally learn Spanish, stop gossiping, or take a cooking class.
For a month leading up to New Year’s Eve, my family and I always sweetly offer backhanded goals to each other, things like “My resolution for you this year is put your dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink.”
Apparently, the new year is also the prime opportunity for us all to brush up on our housework.
The problems with resolutions don’t stop after you make them. Whether you stick to or drop your New Year’s resolutions, there’s always shame or gloating that follows.
For example, suppose my resolution is to get into a healthy exercise routine. I now find myself sweating in an overcrowded room filled with other ambitious folks on New Year’s Day, who, like me, will soon regret and abandon their resolution.
I’ve come to understand I set too many goals that are far too ambitious.
I will secure an internship, travel to Europe, volunteer every month, maintain a skincare routine, do yoga every day, and solve world peace—all in the next twelve months. Or at least that’s what it says in my journal.
To avoid the disappointment and self-loathing that failing those aggressive goals will inevitably lead to in March, I’m choosing to focus on a smaller number of more attainable goals that feel positive and align with my values heading into a brand-new year. I also plan to take a more personal approach to resolutions by keeping them private and especially not offering resolutions to other people.
While I love the fresh start and possibilities the New Year atmosphere brings, I think it’s important that we relax and treat our resolutions as private opportunities to be compassionate and kind to ourselves.
And if achieving that mentality means I need to abandon my cute little Pinterest vision board, then so be it.
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