Why I’m not making New Year’s resolutions

Image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

New year, new me – more like new year, new lockdown. Perhaps you made New Year’s resolutions in earnest, hoping that 2021 would be different to the complete shitshow we had just experienced. Yet, within the first week, we have been placed into yet another national lockdown and you may be regretting your decision to make them at all.

The benefits of Dry January may no longer look so appealing when you’re forced to stay at home with your family long past that festive grace period when your mum and dad are happy to have you home and your siblings are just about horrible. The closure of gyms might be making your promises of doing more exercise seem even harder, particularly when your bedroom has already become your study space, sleeping quarters and an entertaining space for all of those Zoom get togethers. Whatever you may have promised to change this year, it’s perfectly understandable if you’re feeling unmotivated and your resolutions may be suffering as a result of it.

I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. As a neurotic perfectionist, I have often struggled to make things stick, particularly when they’re more difficult than I originally thought. And this year, there are many more difficulties than we originally anticipated. So often, New Year is idolised as a transitional stage – as if by the stroke of midnight, all of your previous procrastination and lack of enthusiasm simply evaporate and you are transformed into the ‘new me’ you wish to be. In fact, New Year’s resolutions seem to fuel rather than suppress procrastination. With January 1st being marked as the day of new habits, you can carry on all of your old ones till then, making them harder to break when that day comes. If you really want to make a change, it is suggested that you start making changes straight away.

However, in this current climate, it is understandable if you are lacking the motivation to do so more than ever. Whilst some argue that lockdown should be a time to form new routines and reinvent yourself, this is often easier said than done – not only are you facing the daunting goals you set for yourself, but you are also possibly isolated from friends and family and having to contend with strict lockdown rules. Instead, I have been trying to set myself small, realistic goals. Whether this is simply to actually get ready in the mornings instead of wallowing in my pyjamas or to read a book for thirty minutes, these goals are a lot easier to complete instead of the bigger, more daunting ones like ‘lose weight’ or ‘run a marathon’.

So, if you’re determined to make your New Year’s resolutions stick, consider making a plan of some smaller and realistic goals. For example, if you wanted to become vegetarian in 2021, consider having a goal of making a number of veggie meals in a week rather than trying to convert to a full vegetarian diet straight away. After you begin to adjust, you can simply try to reduce the amount of times you eat meat in a week even further. By doing this, you are working towards your goal rather than expecting to complete it in one day.

However, even the smallest of goals can seem mountainous tasks at the moment, so most importantly don’t beat yourself up if you slip in pursuit of your goal. This is the main reason I’m not setting myself any specific or concrete New Year’s resolutions – they come loaded with pressure and obligation so, when you forget about your healthy eating for one day or don’t feel up to a run that day, you feel like a failure and even more determined to quit. And, particularly in the current climate, it is understandable when there may just be days when you don’t feel up to it: you’re living in a pandemic.

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