How was everyone’s holidays? Not too bad, I hope. I know for a lot of us, they’re a pretty stressful time of year, so hopefully life is adjusting back to a normal schedule.
Every year people seem obligated to make resolutions to better themselves starting on January 1st. I’ve often participated in this myself in the past, but like many people I fall short of that goal within a few months. A big one for me (and a lot of people) used to be dedicating myself to lose weight. Of course, like anyone that tries to lose weight, the urge to eat yogurt, fruit, and granola bars quickly fades when a) these things start taking a toll on your food budget, and b) the temptation of cheaper, less healthy, more tasty food eventually overtakes us. We feel like we fail in our New Year’s resolutions, and never make an attempt for the rest of the year.
Now, of course, I realize that’s kind of silly. Losing weight has become more of a constant work-in-progress for me rather than a goal to achieve for the sake of achieving a goal. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to make this a New Year’s resolution, but from personal experience I feel life changes like these should be made gradually throughout the year, rather than a decision that’s something akin to a spur-of-the-moment one.
In this sense, New Year’s resolutions seem pointless to me. After all, why choose to make a positive change for yourself at this specific time instead of at any other? It seems like that would just promote the idea of putting off goals until a similar time came around again. And if you fail it, especially something as sensitive as losing weight, it makes you feel more like a loser. Like you have this idea that starting on January 1st, you’re supposed to eat healthy and exercise every single day for the rest of the year, and if you fall off the bandwagon then that’s it. You’re finished. You failed your New Year’s resolution.
Resolutions like these should be taken with the idea that’s it’s not something as simple as, “I’m finally going to repaint the walls in my house this year,” or something task-oriented like that. Those are things you just, you know, do. Bigger tasks like losing weight or whatever lifestyle change your New Year’s resolution is require the expectation that your goal isn’t going to happen overnight, you’re going to have relapses, and you can’t feel like a failure because you didn’t do it perfectly the first time.
That being said, I like the overall idea of New Year’s resolutions in the sense that it’s a brand new year, there’s a fresh slate, and now that normal life has resumed after the holidays, it’s a good opportunity to either start over or begin something new. When you have a bad day, you have a bad day. You go to sleep and wake up facing a new one. The bad day’s behind you. You have a bad week, then you have a bad week. Sunday starts a new one, and you put last week behind you. Bad month, it’s a bad month. You flip the calendar page and put it out of your mind. Last month was a picture of a dog gnawing on a chew toy in a backyard. This month it’s a kitten yawning. Calendars are magical like that.
Whether you’re starting a new day, week, month, or year there’s usually the feeling of, indeed, starting a new day, week, whatever. That’s why if things just aren’t going your way, it’s okay to just take the bad day, week, whatever and start out fresh and recharged when a new one begins.
I’m not saying it’s always easy (god knows I just can’t put a lot of stuff behind me), but there’s usually that feeling of starting a new whatever that helps nudge us along to better things. I think one of the reasons people get on the bandwagon of starting a New Year’s resolution is because there’s so much reflection around the holidays of the previous year and what happened (or didn’t). And when that 12 on your computer clock reverts back to a 1, or you throw away that stupid planner you bought last year because it was on sale and your were feeling cheap and you bring out your new one you bought because there’s flowers or sailboats or whatever you like on the cover, everyone feels at least a small feeling of rebirth. It’s just natural.
So if you want to better yourself this year and form some kind of long-term goal, go ahead. The feeling to start something new is here, so you may as well act on it. But if you’re going to just end up forcing yourself to do something just because it’s January 1st and you feel you have to, don’t be surprised if that forced motivation quickly disappears. You have to balance this time of year out with embracing the feeling of a new year and setting realistic goals for yourself that you ultimately want to do because you want to, not because you feel this is the best time to start. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two.
Anyway, good luck to everyone this year! Hope it’s a good one! 🙂