I refuse to believe that the concept of New Years Resolutions is actually helpful to anyone. I’ll admit, I’m 100% guilty of devising a neat and hopeful list of my own in the days leading up to January 1st and I’ll concede that, in the moment, they give you a sense of confidence and reinforce the “newness” of a new year…but a week or two later, new Years Resolutions are just another heap of reasons for me to look down on myself.
This year, my list looked like this:
- Stop having missed/late punches at work.
- Don’t buy any snacks at work.
- Only eat out once a week at most.
- Write daily.
- Doctor Who mega marathon
- Eat as cleanly as possible.
- Follow facial regimen.
- Keep room clean.
- Drink no coffee.
- Stop taking Uber so much.
None of these are particularly outrageous things, I know. No “must lose 50 lbs” here, but they are things I struggle with on a daily basis and I did enter the new year with every intent of cleaning up my act in these ways. However, we are now officially 13 days into 2015 and, well…I managed to forget to punch in at work today. I totally indulged in a cookie on my break. This post will be the first entry of the new year on this blog. The most Doctor Who-related thing I’ve done is probably kiss my Tenth-Doctor-looking boyfriend at midnight on the first. I’ve eaten cleanly…if rice and beans and bagels interspersed with the occasional Dunkins run counts as “clean”. My cute bar of Fresh Farmacy from Lush is still sitting dry and forlorn on my bathroom counter. There is a collection of clothes on my bedroom floor that’s slowly but steadily turning into a pile. I drank a caramel macchiato to keep me awake to work on cosplays last night and I have every intent of eventually trying whatever the heck a flat white is. I had to Uber to work last week….but the blame totally lies on my alarm clock, I swear.
I think I might be managing to keep the “only eat out once a week” one so far…but that’s mostly because I’ve been flat broke. Moreover, there’s a convention this weekend…that resolution is going up in smoke.
I took a few good minutes to beat myself up over all of this while I got ready for work this morning. I made sure to look myself in the mirror while I sighed about being essentially useless when it comes to any kind of focus and determination. I reiterated to myself what parents and teachers have told me in the past; I appear to lack what most people would call a “work ethic”. Then I bought a bagel for breakfast because I felt sad and carbs are always the solution.
This is what I see as the core problem with “New Years Resolutions” as they are traditionally construed. I’m willing to believe that there are a few people out there who can say sip their chapagne on New Year’s Eve and say, “Starting tomorrow, I will do ____!” and not only wake up the next morning with the motivation to do that thing, but keep that momentum going ad infinitum. For most of us though, resolutions are made to be broken. Most of us can say we’ll do ten handstands a day starting on January 1st and, maybe, for the first few days keep it up enthusiastically. Then, without meaning to, we skip a day. Then the next week we skip three days. Then, before we know it, it’s been a month since we did a handstand and, at that point, our brains tell us, what’s the point? The resolution is broken and that, for me at least, turns into an excuse to forget all about it, except (of course) for those moments when we feel particularly self-deprecating. “You forgot to buy milk, you broke your favorite wine glass, and you couldn’t keep that resolution to write a haiku every day. You swine.”
I have more than enough reasons to look down on myself. So many, in fact, that I’m not going to elaborate on the point because it would put me into a bad headspace right before bed and I need to maximize whatever little sleep I can snag tonight. My point is, going into the new year with the intent to instantly create these neat little positive habits can be ultimately detrimental. I know it can be tempting to plan a transformation every time a new year rolls around, especially given the “new year, new you” mantra that producers of literally anything slap onto their post-holiday campaigns. In a twisted, surreal kind of way, they’ve figured out how to turn New Years into a holiday in the same was Valentine’s Day has turned into a grotesque parody of anything it was ever even remotely meant to represent. Traditionally, celebrations of a new calendar year have been opportunities to reflect on the passage of time and where our lives might take us in the coming months….so naturally someone saw fit to translate that to “buy a cookbook full of recipes to follow along with that daily regimen of eating completely differently all of a sudden” and “buy an organizational book to remind you you’re supposed to start cleaning up on a regular basis starting next month”.
Telling yourself that you’re going to wake up the next morning, whether on New Year’s or any other day, and barrel headlong into something you admittedly struggle with isn’t smart or healthy.
That’s why, starting tonight, I am effectively tossing my New Years Resolutions out the window, tearing up the post-it, and crossing out the lists in my planner. Maybe I’ll even throw in a few disgruntled smiley faces. Instead of getting hung up on whether or not I can stay away from sugar for another day or whether I’ll be able to come up with a topic to write on before the day ends, I’m resolving to do the following:
I will make 2015 a better year than 2014. I will make myself better than I was in 2014.
That’s it. No challenges or rules. I’m simply going to keep in mind the goal of working on things this year. I hope, by the end of 2015 I’ll be able to say that I am more timely, eat more cleanly, and write with more frequency, but I will not put any kind of artificial limitations on these goals. I won’t stress myself out in an effort to become more content, there’s enough of that already in this “adult life” game.