Right now, you're probably getting bombarded with messages like "new year, new me" and feel the pressure to conform to the wave of self-improvement advice out there. Maybe this week you have already tried and failed a new diet, sport, sleeping routine - the list goes on. Worry not, we are all in the same boat.
With new year wishes often comes the expectation of a list of new year’s resolutions, which if you're like me simply grows and grows each year to unattainable lengths. Who doesn't want to learn another language, finish writing a book, become a master at some unknown craft, in essence, become a better version of themselves?
The wish to better oneself is not the problem. Neither is the new year giving you the motivation to tackle necessary changes in your life. The problem is the pressure that goes along with the idea that you must feel the need to do this. Especially, once you start looking around and comparing your goals to other people's and see how they may be succeeding (or claiming to succeed) at what you yourself want to be doing.
That's why last year, I tried something different. Instead of making a list of things I would inevitably fail to implement and feel bad about, I made a vision board. In theory, something to help you "manifest" your goals and meant to be as specific as possible, my version of a vision board was pasting pictures of things I wanted to do more of on a wall where I could see them. A picture of a green valley reminded me to go on walks more, a picture of a glass of water to drink. And it worked! Because I looked at it all the time, I was reminded of what I wanted to focus on, without the pressure of having an overwhelming list of specific time-consuming goals. In this way, you subconsciously focus on your goals instead of stressing out about them. Another nice way to do this, is by wishing for things on New Year’s Eve. A tradition in my family is to take an empty box, put small notes with wishes inside and hide the box until you want to look at it again. With this method, there's no pressure involved at all. If anything, it's just nice to see which wishes of yours came true or which ones you don't even remember having.
This, by which I mean reflection, is another alternative to a list of resolutions, which I think is helpful rather than stressful. Whether it's reflection concerning your personal qualities or your situation, it can help you be clearer about what you actually want and so help to avoid making resolutions you don't genuinely care about. And who knows, maybe what you find is that, actually, the old you has much to be thankful for and is already quite happy with their situation.
But obviously (and this is a message that should be much more present at new year’s, especially this year) you do not have to do any of that! We all just survived another year of a global pandemic, of university, of personal challenges and the first days of a new year are just that, more of the same (in a neutral, not a depressing sense). One of my best friends when asked about her new year’s resolutions would always go into a (quite sweary) tirade about why she thinks resolutions and forced self-improvement are *insert swear word of choice here*. To her New Year’s Eve was a day to celebrate but nothing more. Her philosophy is, if you want to change yourself, you can do so at any point, but if you don't, if you just want to live your life, that's cool too.
So, whether you start the new year reflecting about the past, hoping for the future or simply living one day at a time, it's all good as long as what you are doing is not stressing out about new year’s resolutions. Hopefully, this article has given you some alternatives to doing just that.
- Sincerely, Old Me.