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New Year’s resolutions have been nothing but empty promises to myself for the past few years.
I remember prepping myself every single year, toward mid-December, amidst the excitement for Christmas, the chaotic planning for a New Year’s Eve party, and the rush to get some days off by the end of the year (because I’m one of those Christmas enthusiasts who crave to spend quality time with their family and feeling the holiday without the stress of work).
For days, I would daydream about what new things I want to start doing in a couple of weeks, and at some point, I even wrote them down with sparkly pens and some cute doodles.
Too much enthusiasm for the horrible couple of years that have passed (especially in Lebanon), I know.
I’d tell my family about my resolutions, my friends, my boyfriend, and become so damn sure that I was going to do them all.
A couple of months into the new year, and the resolutions suddenly went with the wind, burned to ashes, put on Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, and scurried off to a magical broom to fly to a land far…far away from my reach.
And for years, I wondered what the hell was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I stick with the promises I made to myself?
Why didn’t I get to travel to Scotland?
Why didn’t I publish the couple of books I have on hold?
Why didn’t I learn how to paint like a f*cking pro?
Why didn’t I make my skin glow brighter?
Why didn’t I even start with my reading list?
Frustration hit me like a hurricane, but mostly, it was frustration at myself, not the world. And as much as people said that I possessed a healthy amount of self-awareness, I realized that I’ve been blaming myself so harshly, when (most of the time) it wasn’t even my fault that most of my New Year’s resolutions did not happen.
Well…probably the glowing skin thing could’ve worked if only I stuck with my skin care routines and drank enough water. My fault there.
But the flight to Scotland? Hello pandemic and Lebanese economic crisis.
Publishing two books I haven’t finished? Hello being overworked and almost leading myself to burnout.
Finishing my reading list? To be fair, with the amount of screen time I have throughout the day, my eyes are screaming for rest at night, and most of the books I read are over 1,000 pages long.
Maybe some people still find a way around that and make it happen, but does it really matter?
I have my own pace and my own mental health in the process. And to be honest, after a couple of really tough years, I feel like we all deserve to cut ourselves some slack.
So, let’s think about it for a second. Why do we not stick to some of our New Year’s resolutions (at least I don’t)?
It’s because we set goals for ourselves that are affected by several external factors that might change and give us a big middle finger in the face of our plans.
So what if we read four books instead of 12 in the coming year?
What if we go places we haven’t visited before in our own country instead of traveling if that seems really difficult?
What if we publish one book instead of two and put our entire heart into it?
What if we learn to paint the base and master it before delving into the colors, details, and perfect brushstrokes?
What if we choose to accomplish something that is not affected by external factors but internal factors?
Certainly, I came to understand that the true accomplishments that we must seek first are the ones within ourselves.
Here are three things that truly matter when it comes to setting our New Year’s resolutions this time:
No matter who we are, where we live, or what our circumstances are, we definitely are work in progress. We all have room for improvement. If we are always snappy and have a quick, knee-jerk reaction, we can learn to control our temper and reply to people in a more mindful way. If we are stubborn and refuse to take people’s opinions into consideration, we can learn to be more lenient. If we are easily affected by people’s opinions, we can learn to love ourselves with all our imperfections and disregard destructive criticism.
Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s always a good thing to work on ourselves, which is something that isn’t impeded by external factors. It’s in our control, and it’s our responsibility to become the person we dream of being.
For instance, for this new year, I want to work on respecting my feelings and own opinion, and stir away from people pleasing as much as possible. It might be a difficult road at first, but I’m definitely getting there.
And I do not mean traveling right here (although, if you have the chance to get on a plane and get to know other cultures, then by all means, do it; it’s wonderful). What I mean is trying to see the world through other people’s eyes.
We can’t be limited to our own view/perspective of the world. Perhaps, if we learn to walk in other people’s shoes, we could start being there for them, quit misunderstanding others, and even start seeing the joy in helping them.
Personally, I decided to start really understanding the widow’s offering and put it into work in my own life. With the rate of poverty in Lebanon, it is important for the citizens to all come together and help the ones in need.
When our ambitions are skyrocketing, we tend to set New Year’s resolutions that might be impossible to achieve by the end of the year. So why not set the end goal—let’s say it’s publishing a book you’ve been writing for a year—and start working toward this goal throughout the coming year. You don’t have to publish it next December. You could have finished the first draft by then, and then the next year, you could work on the edits, the cover, and the marketing.
It feels amazing to be ambitious and have dreams, but to “perfect” it, we need to give it all the time it needs.
So, at the end of this year, we shouldn’t feel pressured to set unrealistic goals for ourselves, and if we do set goals and they do not work, it’s okay.
You know why? Life happens. And achieving new goals is a process that might need more than a year to accomplish.
The most important thing is not making more money, getting a new car, or learning a new talent quickly. What truly matters is practicing self-love, loving others, and being gentle with ourselves when it comes to achieving our dreams.