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It’s 2018, and with the New Year comes the inevitable onslaught of resolutions that people make with this fresh start. I used to be one of these people, but not this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love tradition and embracing one’s culture involves practicing these traditions sometimes. But I think the idea of New Year’s resolutions are flawed, and I have chosen not to participate in the popular tradition for numerous reasons.
Every year it’s the same thing with me, well, since high school to be precise. I vow to be healthier, I resolve to eat better and exercise more, but then I soon find myself falling into bad habits once again. I do very well for the month of January, but by the time that February comes around, I’m a lot more worried about Valentine’s Day and what boxes of chocolates I’m going to buy for my family and friends instead of my resolution focused on being healthier that year.
And for that month of January, I find that I am anxiously worried about my resolution until it finally falls by the wayside. It almost feels like an inevitably, and one that results in a sense of guilt and general failure at making the changes that I was so enthused about a little while earlier. At the end of 2017, I did a lot of thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and as soon as Christmas was over, I began to reevaluate my approach to the idea of making New Year’s resolutions.
I did not want any more broken promises to myself. I did not want any more guilt the next month. And I did not want any more stress of trying to fit into the social norms of making resolutions only to see it fall apart yet again. If I really want to achieve something, I do it. As a result, I contemplated the idea of why I found it so important to make my New Year’s resolutions. It’s almost as if I felt an obligation to do so, just to do it like everyone else, as opposed to really wanting these changes for my own benefit.
There is also this new trend to go with resolutions called “new year, new me.” And as I reflected and reevaluated the idea of making resolutions, I determined that I like me just the way I am (although that doesn’t mean I can’t work on making a better me).
So how did I begin setting goals for 2018? Well, I started by doing an analysis of the previous year. I make notes to myself after certain things happen throughout the year. Usually they are notes about my relationships, different life events, or how I feel when I’m overwhelmed, etc. Either way, revisiting them helps me to reflect on and learn from the past year.
After a conversation with my friend, who asked me what I thought was bad about 2017, I took my analysis a step further and literally made a list of everything. It looked something like this (but much longer):
As I reviewed the list I had created, I realized that there were some things that were beyond my control, like when a loved one passed away, but there were others that I could actively work on changing in 2018.
When I considered my approach, I decided to try and set smart goals that I could achieve rather than a broad resolution that had failed me so many times in the past. So, I set a number of goals and then wrote down ways to help reach these goals in 2018.
Stress can have a huge negative effect on my life, so I wanted to think of how to alleviate stress in healthy ways for 2018.
One thing that helps me calm down and relax is the smell of certain scents from Bath and Body Works. So one of my solutions to help with stress relief is to make sure that I have some of my favorite scents with me at all times to use whenever I start getting stressed out.
When I was thinking about my health this year, I wanted to avoid making past mistakes. So instead of making a resolution to go to the gym and exercise, I thought about what had prevented me from keeping that goal in the past.
The biggest problem for me was finding some support. So as part of my solution to work on exercise and health, I downloaded an application that does exercises with me, reminds me to exercise through notifications, and even gives me suggestions on what to eat for my diet.
Writing a book was a resolution from the previous year, and it didn’t work. So instead, I decided to commit to writing something for my book every weekday for at least 30 minutes.
While I may not complete my book this year, I’m confident that I will make a significant amount of progress by sticking to this commitment. And if I find myself struggling to write for 30 minutes each weekday, then I have other plans to help me keep my commitment.
New Year’s resolutions are not bad or awful, they just do not work for me as well as they work against me. To me, resolutions can sometimes feel like peer pressure, and something that we end up doing mindlessly along with our friends and family.
I tend to do a lot better when I set attainable goals for myself. And as I look at my plans for this year, I’m hopeful that there’s a greater chance of having success by setting up my goals this way. But I do feel good about my approach and process of reevaluating the previous year, finding what’s important to me, working on making changes, and moving forward in life. I’m not looking for a “new me,” but I do want to work on a better version of me that I love so dearly.
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