How New Year’s Resolutions Hurt You (and how to make them better)
As a Type-A personality, the start of the New Year is always enormously powerful to me. A reset button, a way to tell myself to start fresh. I spend the lazy week between Christmas and New Years Eve creating delicately lined journals with all of my plans and intentions for the year to come. To sit down with my thoughts and write them down and know that I have them organized for later is an adrenaline rush that my significant other doesn’t quite understand. As we were shopping for a White Elephant present for a party earlier this week, I picked up a 2023 planner and showed him. “Wouldn’t this be a great gift?” He shrugged, smiled and walked by, stating “Not everyone finds organizing their days quite as fun as you do, Cam.” Though he’s right, and I definitely value my structure much more than the average person, we all do crave it. It’s why as children, teachers tell our parents structure is everything. It grounds us, it elevates us, and it gives us a semblance of emotional neutral when we’re feeling overwhelmed. So New Years always feels like a relief to me. Everything I may not have gotten done in the last year I could reevaluate and put on the agenda for this year. Except…sometimes I got to February without starting any of the tasks I set out to do. A group that never took off, or some business venture that never came to fruition. That’s when I began picking at myself, tying up my self-worth in my lack of productivity and eventually moving into a spiral that ended with a lot of negative self-talk and some tears. Fun fact: Matt (my partner of 10+ years) said this year – “You only cried twice this holiday season, this was a good one!”
It’s not helpful to always stretch yourself. There can be value to it, for sure, but so much of resolution making is a pressure that you’re placing on yourself to be your worst critic if you fail. It’s an excuse to tie your motivation to a time, a reset button that’s really, truthfully, made up. Many times resolutions are a response to something you already feel is flawed about your character–your weight, your smoking or drinking habits, your social anxiety.
Why not, instead, focus on what made you happy that previous year? What interactions did you have that you want to have again? What ways can you practice loving yourself, rather than disciplining yourself for ‘acting out’ this year. Do you want to move your body because you don’t like yourself now, or do you want to move your body because you want to feel good?
My goals this year are based on the parts of myself that I truly appreciate–my drive to succeed, my love for my friends and family. I will take steps when I can–not every day, and not a certain amount each month–to spend time with and care for the people in my life, including myself.
Instead of looking back, look forward. Don’t make resolutions as a reaction but instead as a hope, not as a promise but as an intention, and know that ‘The New Year’ can restart whenever you want it to.