When January 1 rolls around every year and I’m asked about what New Year's resolutions I’ve made, I’m one of the few people in the room to say I don’t have any and I don’t plan on making any. Will I set up some goals for the year? Of course. But I’m setting up goals for myself all the time; goals I know are achievable, like finishing my shift before a certain time or finally making the time to email back the people I haven’t emailed in way too long. When I accomplish these goals, I don’t throw myself a parade (although I really should just for fun), but just give myself a high-five (no joke; because I am that person), and move on to my next goal, no matter how small or large. If I don’t reach a goal, for whatever reason, I don’t beat myself up, I accept it, set another goal, and try again. Honestly, even despite my depression, I love myself too much to bog myself down with resolutions.
I’ve found that once you attach the word “resolution” to something, you jinx yourself. Like people who tattoo their partner’s name on themselves — you’re totally jinxing yourself. Then when the relationship comes to an end, as it inevitably will in some of those cases, you end with a dragon or a tiger, or something else you never really wanted as a tattoo, just to cover up their name.
Resolution also has a tinge of negativity to it because it’s often linked to pressure. Far too many people toss around the word, especially this time of year as they prepare for January 1, and if that resolution isn’t upheld there’s a sense of guilt and disappointment in oneself that follows. Using the word resolution is heavy and carries with it too much weight, almost like tying a boulder to your ankle, preventing you to do or enjoy certain things because you’ve tied yourself to an unrealistic commitment and called it a “resolution.” You don’t give yourself room for error, or the world around you room for error, which then creates even more pressure. Not only are you up against the pressure of having made a resolution, but then you’re up against the pressure that comes when things don’t go your way; the way you want or need them to go in order to make your resolution a reality.
We’re supposed to make mistakes; we’re supposed to mess up sometimes, and making resolutions every January can’t change that — and why would you want it to?
When you really think about it, resolutions can be burdensome and actually unfair to do to yourself. You’re trapping yourself not just mentally, but emotionally and physically too. You’re putting yourself in a box of your own making all because you plucked the word resolution out of the air, or wherever it is that resolutions reside, and made it a part of your life.
It’s with this in mind, that I long ago dropped the word “resolutions” from my vocabulary and replaced it with goals. It’s a change you want to make in your life for the better or an ambitious item you have your eye on and hoping to reach. It’s something that’s not soaking with pressure, because goals are something you can come up with anytime of year. They’re not obligated to only be made in January and because of this there’s a freedom — there’s no timeline, so you’re not kicking yourself if February or March rolls around and it’s not reached. Goals, unlike resolutions, are constantly evolving and changing. And, also unlike resolutions, they’re stepping stones toward that goal.
January 1 may be the first day of the New Year and, yes, for some a clean slate. But the mistakes and challenges you had in 2018, and every year before that, made you the person you are today. We’re supposed to make mistakes; we’re supposed to mess up sometimes, and making resolutions every January can’t change that — and why would you want it to? Why would you want to dismantle your past?
So I think goals should be the mindset all year. When you don’t trap yourself under what society has deemed an annual tradition, you find you have more space to move and grow — that’s what you deserve.