why New Year's resolutions are dumb
If you know me or my blog, you know that I LIVE for setting goals. I’m always trying to reflect and improve. So, naturally, you’d think I’d be the first one to sit
down and make a list of New Year's resolutions… nah, f**k that.
Let me tell you a little story that helps you understand where I’m coming from...
Growing up, every adult woman I knew would always lament, “Yeah, I totally dropped the ball [hah, New Year’s pun] on my diet. But I SWEAR I’m starting on Monday!” It always made me roll my eyes.
Then I grew up and fell into the same trap. I felt just how difficult it was to maintain a set of goals (especially because food is my LIFE). What has always annoyed me about this situation is this lack of mental ownership that perpetuates the cycle: we tell ourselves stuff we have to do but don’t allow it to succeed. How can we make our goals successful? Let them shape how you think.
If this were easy, everyone would be successful. And I sure as hell can’t practice it nearly as well as I can *hopefully* articulate it. But, this leads into the idea of → New Year’s resolutions. I find the most common theme is usually that you set goals to become a better person. It could be as concrete as “visit family more often” to something as abstract as “have more confidence”. But where I lose the ability to believe in their importance or chance of success is the inherently shallow nature of resolutions.
Going back to the diet cycle example, you’re setting a surface-level hope for some future “you” that is magically more evolved than who you are now, like giving up deliciously unhealthy food and always being motivated to go to the gym. It’s not surprising that so many people who try and diet fail over and over again. Why? Improving yourself comes from changing your mindset...seeing yourself and your world a bit differently. Then your decisions will reflect that new mindset.
It’s a MUCH more difficult approach to being successful in any endeavor because you’re attempting to abandon the easy trap most of us fall into: Hoping that if we tell ourselves what we want enough, we believe it will mysteriously ignite a genuine passion.
But how does this make New Year’s resolutions “dumb”?
That’s kind of aggressive, Ally…
I think they can be dumb. If you fall into the trap of just telling yourself to be different, on any January 1st where you think you have an idea of what it means to be a “better you”, than you’ve doomed yourself before starting. A “better you” can’t be dictated. It has to be shaped by new experiences, life events, or perspectives that seep into your own thinking. It’s not terrible to draw up a direction, like pushing to “have more confidence” come the new year, but if you are really looking for success, there would be no use for a resolution.
Sitting down as the clock strikes midnight on the last day of the year to form a new list of personal commandments feels the same to me as drawing yourself as a superhero: except for in the new Spiderman remakes where he creates his own web-shooting technology, superheroes come pre-assembled, powers and all.
Resolutions don’t shape a mindset but rather they push you to bargain between yourself and the superhero “you” that you’ve created. A superhero doesn’t need to change their perspective because they are finished products who need to live in a world of “right and wrong” or else they wouldn’t get anything done. We don’t come pre-assembled and we especially do not live in a world of “right and wrong”.
Drawing up a calculated design plan for personal growth can be dangerous.
I think the key to starting the year off right is by eliminating “resolutions”. Think about how you want to improve and then begin a new cycle, one where you constantly reflect, reassess, and open yourself up to new ways of thinking.
Even for someone like myself who probably spends more time in college drawing up “To Do Lists” than actually completing them, I’ve grown to embrace the unknown...naturally. Simply through life experiences, ones that I neither predict nor fully conceptualize their effects, I have formed a new mindset that makes up who I am right now. It’s allowed me to TRULY understand, to believe subconsciously, that who I am will never be predetermined. If I don’t leave room for failure or alterations, then how can I ever expect to be content with myself?
And I didn’t need to scribble “embrace the unknown”
on a list of New Year’s resolutions to get here.
This is MY ADVICE FOR STARTING THE YEAR:
→ Don’t let your goals be shallow.
→ Always leave room for some gray area, some failure, some altered plans…
→ And a boat load of reflecting.
Success will find you only if you’re willing to go through all of the shit that comes before it. And even then, what you’ve labeled as “success” won’t look like what you imagined.
Happy New Year! Let me know what you thought about this post by…
And I ALWAYS welcome random or not random conversations with any human being, so feel free to message me on social media (all linked at the top of the page) or shoot me an email. I swear I’m the least intimidating person you’ll ever meet.
Thanks for reading!