A year ago, I was working at a shitty office where my opinion on New Years Resolutions wasn’t well received (because I dared to have my own thoughts on the matter instead of following the approved groupthink…oh the horrors! Someone who dares to think for herself!) It was a toxic environment that encouraged terrible stereotypes and worse life advice; if you’re not a morning person, you’re doomed to be a failure. If you don’t make a fucking vision board, you’ll never achieve any goals. If you don’t make your bed every morning, the fucking sky is going to fall and humanity will cease to exist. If you dare to acknowledge the existence of anything less than positive in life, you’re just a terrible person in general. I’m not the type who can handle being forced to pretend to be someone I’m not, and I finally left that job in the midst of a bad panic attack several months ago. Since then, I’ve been self-employed, panic attack free, and happily enjoying being myself sans judgment.
So, on that note, let’s talk about New Years Resolutions and the cheesy cliched waste of breath that they are. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about goals! I set new goals just about every day and week, and I’m driven when it comes to accomplishing them. Given that, wouldn’t it be a copout to just set goals once a year when NYE rolls around and remain complacent the rest of the year? What makes a new year so special anyway as far as goals go? Is a goal less important if I set it on July 31 instead of December 31?
That’s just one piece of my reasoning. The other part is that people set some super lofty goals when NYE rolls around. I’m going to give up pizza forever and go to the gym every day! I’m going to quit smoking/drinking/porn/whatever! Then, a couple weeks into January, that brand new gym membership is already collecting dust (along with the boxes from your last 5 large pizzas since NYE), your smoking/drinking habits haven’t changed a bit, your computer still has 18 different porn sites on rotation, and you’re made to feel like a failure because you weren’t able to adapt an entirely new lifestyle on a whim to fulfill a tired old cliche.
Give yourself a break already! Humans are creatures of habit, and our rituals help us survive this stressful life. It’s easy to say you’re going to give up pizza and work out every day when you’re on Christmas vacation; it’s another story on January 5th when you’re back in the throes of real life and you just don’t have the energy after work to cook dinner or go to the gym. It’s the cold, dreary, stressful beginning of the year, and you’re going to want that drink or cigarette more than ever. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it; unrealistic goals are just unrealistic.
So please, don’t feel pressured to set these big earth-shattering New Years Resolutions. Instead, set smaller and more attainable goals throughout the year and accomplish them in shorter time frames. If you want to improve your health, perhaps set a goal to replace your carbolicious dinner with salad at least once a week and go for a walk on your days off. If you want to cut back on drinking or smoking, start with one or two days a week and see how it goes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you don’t have to try to change your entire life in a day either.
I’ve accomplished a lot of tough goals in my life, and none of them were New Years Resolutions. When my parents stopped helping me pay for college after only a couple semesters, I decided I was going to get that degree anyway. It took an extra 3 years and lots of manual labor at factories, but I graduated. When my career was going nowhere and I needed a fresh start in a better economy, I set a goal to move to NC by myself, and here I am. When I got engaged and set a goal to pull off my dream beach wedding debt-free for under $4,000, I put my mind to it and made it happen. I was able to accomplish my goals by being strong and realistic.
Let’s be honest; if I made a resolution to give up pizza forever and go to the gym every day, I’d “fail” too because I love pizza and I hate working out. However, I wouldn’t see that as a failure because it was an unrealistic goal to begin with.
Next time someone asks you what your New Years Resolutions are, don’t feel obligated to make something up or go along with the groupthink. It’s perfectly fine to say “I’m not making any.” You’re not required to explain why either, but if you choose to, it might start a healthier dialogue about setting and achieving goals. You can even feel free to share this post written by some obscure blogger who thinks for herself and encourages others to do the same, because our world is going to be pretty boring if everyone adheres to the cliches and groupthink.