Change Is Hard: Why New Years Resolutions Aren’t for Everyone

I have never been one for New Years celebrations.

I’m not against new beginnings, and my dislike of New Years celebrations isn’t only because I hate fireworks. In fact, I love that we blow up a big party every year in honor of the earth making another lap around the sun. The only problem is that with every New Years day comes the pressure to commit to resolutions that will supposedly help us reinvent ourselves and rethink the way we’ve been living over the past year.

For those of us who are sensitive to the idea of change and are constantly worrying about what we need to be doing better, the idea of drafting resolution after resolution could seem more like a burden instead of a chance to start over. New Years resolutions can be great for goal setting, but at times they can also be dangerous for all the idealism they hold. Especially if we’ve become weary from an entire year of overthinking and trying to inject as much perfectionism as we can into whatever it is we’ve been busy with.

Once the clock strikes twelve midnight on January 1st, we’re pressured into thinking that change immediately needs to take place. We expect to feel ourselves become smarter, more hardworking, less anxious, and anything else prescribed for us by our list of resolutions. One blunder even two or three days into the New Year can make us feel hopeless or give us the impression that we lack discipline and motivation.

What we need to remember is that change is gradual. For any real change to take place, there needs to be both discipline and the ability to be forgiving towards ourselves. It’s okay to slip up and have that one chocolate chip cookie even after assuring yourself that you’d be vegan this year. It’s all right to succumb to the comforting powers of time-wasting websites even after trying to push yourself to finally stop procrastinating. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with not being able to see any concrete changes taking place even a few months into the New Year. Stick to your resolutions as much as you want, but remember that not getting something right the first time doesn’t make you any less of a person.

Resolutions are great if you need to admit to yourself that certain changes need to be made, but don’t feel pressured to change if you feel you don’t need to or if you’ve been trying your best to make things work over the past year. And if you do want change, you don’t need a benchmark or a big holiday like New Years in order to officially start becoming a better version of yourself. You can decide to become better anytime, and staying the same even in the first few weeks or months of the New Year is in no way a reflection of your progress or abilities.

Instead of seeing New Years resolutions as a burden or as a set of impossible tasks to be unfulfilled throughout the year, look at them as a way to reflect on what you did well over the past year and try to stay committed to the good habits you’ve already formed. When approached with an overly anxious or perfectionist mindset, there’s no doubt that New Years resolutions can be more destructive than constructive and can lead us to focus on what we think we’ve been doing wrong rather than everything we’ve been doing right.

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