Nothing makes me cringe more than the phrase, “New year, new me!” It rings loud and clear across every social media platform, gym and organic superfood store each January, and—to be quite honest—it’s giving me a bit of a headache.
Opinions are rather polarized on this topic. Some people swear by resolutions, as having an actual designated “restart” like the one granted by the start of a new calendar year can be just the kick they need to get going on their goals. Others, myself included, tend to shy away from them.
Let me be clear on one thing: I’m all for self betterment. Seriously. I run my own blog where I talk about transforming into the best, most authentic version of yourself, and I write on this topic every single day. I just don’t think that New Year’s resolutions set us up for genuine success in our desired endeavors.
We’re very lucky to live in a world of seasons, of constant change, of cyclical essence. Each and every second is a renewed opportunity to alter our paths and reevaluate our directions. By confining our personal growth to one day a year instead of utilizing the hundreds of other options that we are given, we are stunting our ability to fully take advantage of our lives. We become passengers instead of drivers, readers instead of writers, stagnant beings simply waiting for the turn of the clock to allow us to start anew. The reality of our mortality is that it is not immobile, and that is such a massive blessing that resolutions tend to undermine and overlook.
It shouldn’t take a new year to formulate a new person, a new identity, a new potential. Every day, we should be perfecting the constant art of becoming. Our evolution is essential to our eventual emancipation from the confines of self and society. We should never stop growing, and therefore, there should never be a need to start again. In the ideal world, we would be continuously submerged in the process of metamorphosis.
Furthermore, New Year’s resolutions tend to minimize the amount of work that it can take to reach a goal. The truth of the matter is, if you couldn’t gather the gumption to make a change back in April, you’re not going to be able to do it in January (and quite frankly, it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to do so). The only thing that actually changes between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 is the date.
As aforementioned, change is a constant process, and one that requires daily effort and unconditional dedication. To achieve a resolution, you have to be content with failing, and can’t let setbacks pull you down. For example, if my resolution is to go to the gym six days a week, and I miss a day or two during the first week of the year, I can’t let my excitement and motivation flat line.
Yet, this is the pattern that I see in many resolution-makers. Things go swimmingly for a week or two before the drive wears out, and goals are forfeited far too soon because they were simply too lofty. We can’t expect ourselves to make the sort of character change required for a revolutionary life change in the course of one night. Resolutions aren’t gentle enough with us and don’t allow us the space that we need to make mistakes. Instead, they give us the false idea that we can change our lives in a day.
We can’t. But we can change our lives every day.
Another hard-to-face resolutions reality is that if we really, really wanted something, we wouldn’t wait for the next year to go after it. A lot of people make resolutions based on what they think that they should do, not what they actually want to do. If you’re passionate about a cause, you won’t let time constraints stop you (and the only things in life worth doing are the things that make your heart skip a beat).
Perhaps it is time to move away from New Year’s resolutions and, instead, to make new day’s resolutions. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and friend, neither are you.