Why You Shouldn’t Make a New Year’s Resolution

Every day between Christmas and New Year’s feels like a Sunday. Sundays are grand yokes but they also come with a gentle anxiety about the week ahead. It’s irritating but usually, not unmanageable. Now imagine a week of Sundays that don’t just lead up to a new week but to a brand new year. The anxiety and pressure might feel a little more intense, so let’s sort out a way to reduce this feeling as much as we can.

Straight off the bat, if you’re considering making a New Year’s Resolution, don’t. What’s the point? If you already have a goal set for yourself somewhere in the distance then there is no need to feel like you must set another one, or expedite the process to make the current goal happen more quickly. If you don’t have a long-term goal for yourself, then maybe use this time to set a realistic, achievable goal. However, let’s not fall into the trap of setting some sort of fantastical, unrealistic short-term fix to a problem you know will take time to overcome. When we do this, we more than likely fail and then that adds to the negativity we already feel about the problem. So, if you’re feeling under pressure to have a New Year’s Resolution, definitely don’t set yourself one. It’s important to remember that Resolutions are used as a marketing tool for you to sign up to gyms, programs etc. to achieve a ‘better you’. Join a gym because you want to. Don’t join a gym because the change of calendar demands it.

The New Year also brings with it the sense that you somehow wasted time. Whenever the year changes, I always find myself looking back over the previous 12 months and kicking myself for not doing more. This, as I have mentioned in previous posts (See here), is just the brain’s default habit of focusing on the negatives more so than the positives for survival reasons. What we must remember is that the feeling of wasting time doesn’t always mean we’ve wasted time. If you consider time spent enjoying yourself with friends and family wasted in comparison to time spent working toward a goal it’s essential that you remember you can’t achieve a goal without letting your mind relax every so often. In this sense, ‘wasting time’ with your pals is actually giving more time toward achieving your desired outcome as you give your brain time to re-calibrate.

The final thing that may cause you to feel shit around this time of year is comparison. In the next few days you’ll see plenty of people summarising their years and humbly bragging about all their achievements from the past 12 months. If you see this behaviour, it says more about that person’s lack of an internalised sense of value than it does about your potential lack of self-achievement. Just because someone else appears to be achieving and doing very well, doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing well too. I think we forget this. Just because someone else is doing well doesn’t mean that you are doing badly.

Let me say that again. Just because someone else is doing well doesn’t mean you are doing badly. We’re all on different schedules. So don’t begrudge if you feel like you’re behind and don’t be arrogant if you feel like you’re ahead.

Finally, New Year’s isn’t even real. It’s something we made up. So don’t let yourself be made feel bad by something that isn’t real. You’re an adult, feel bad about something that you can actually fix, at least then you’re doing something productive.

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