December 30, 2021

New Year’s Resolutions are a Bust—Try this Instead.


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Here we are (again): finding ourselves in the same or at least similar position as last year.

It is almost the new year and by default (because society says so), we are competing with each other on making the best list of New Year’s resolutions. It is so strange.

As much as we are trying to break out of the “hamster wheel,” we can’t escape—even in our societal rituals, we are pulled along and feel compelled to make a top 10 list of things to accomplish in the year to come.

However, do we really want to fulfill them or is it merely an opportune time to recycle old ideas? I mean, I can already guess some of the items on peoples’ list: lose weight, hit the gym every day, eat better/healthier, get more sleep, enjoy life more, and manage money better. How am I doing so far?

Christmas is behind us; no more wishing! That’s right! Don’t you think that these types of resolutions are more like a wish list? The only reason I am bringing this up is because they are the same things every year! If they were true resolutions, they would be listed once and then put into action, implying we would have new things to put on it. Ouch! I know—it hurts. Been there, done that. (Truly.) Totally busted!

This “tradition” of making resolutions was a completely new concept to me when I moved to the United States. I grew up merely celebrating like crazy with loud music, drinks of all sorts, table party games, food, New Year’s TV shows (including the British show “Dinner for One”), and setting off fireworks at the stroke of midnight. The most popular announcement: “Happy New Year, forget the old year!” It was, without exception, the welcome of a brand new start, a blank page, and the anticipation of new opportunities to come and the hopefulness of being able to embrace what’s ahead.

In the U.S., peer pressure starts the week or day before New Year’s Eve with the following: “Will you make resolutions,” “What are your New Year’s resolutions,” or “What do you wish for in the New Year?”

Why?!  Why does it matter? Why so much pressure? Why start the year out with a full set of performance anxiety or fear of possible failure and letdown?  It puts a real damper on welcoming a new year!

Stop writing wish lists. If you truly have goals, then you don’t need a new year to start working on them. It’s not a race (Ready, set, go!). If you want to make a list, fine; but be certain to have action steps with each item in order to really accomplish them. Otherwise, forget about it—take a picture and save it for next year’s party to repurpose.

Instead, enjoy the time with the people around you, reflect on the year—good and bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to go over negative things that happened because it provides perspective and can teach us how to progress, change course, and therefore, redirect to a new path forward.

Don’t forget to list the good stuff. You know there were several, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant—list them. It’s important to highlight the positives because they keep us hopeful and energized to proceed and persevere.

Share and exchange your year’s memories and reflections with the people around you. You might be surprised to learn how similar your situation is and how you can help each other by giving suggestions and/or advice because someone else might have been in the exact same circumstance as you. It’s freeing and therapeutic because we realize that we all have comparable life events and experiences.

So, start listing (in writing or aloud) the things that did not go so well and how you can ensure to not have them flare up again and also state the occasions that went well, so you can surpass them. Having a hopeful and positive overall outlook is a lot more joyous, optimistic, and effective than having a “to-do” list to check off from day one. You will only find yourself chasing that same carrot and be left breathless, once more.

Moral of the story: if you are planning on going out with a bang this New Year’s Eve and not making this celebration a bust, then leave behind your old mindset and truly start fresh—with a blank canvas. Write your brand new chapter and decide how the story goes and ends.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new you!

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