Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you tend to feel obligated to make one, and then default to the common ones, or ones your friends are making?
I’ve always felt very deliberate about resolutions: either make one you’ll commit to, or don’t bother with the charade. It grates me when someone inevitably chimes in (unsolicited), “You know, most resolutions don’t make it past January 12th.” You don’t know my life, Jerry.
I’m a fan of making resolutions that are meaningful. If you have a saving problem, making a resolution to save even 1% of your income every month is a small commitment that sets you up for expansion later. If you want to be able to talk to your mother-in-law in her native language, spend five minutes a day on a language app. That sort of thing. Choosing something doable and beneficial means you have a better chance of success, which brings emotional benefits as a bonus.
I don’t make one every year. I’ve skipped them when nothing really inspired me. But in 2016, I decided to have a “Year of Yes” (named after but not the same as Shonda Rimes’s), where I said yes to anything that came my way–stuff I would never say yes to ordinarily–provided it was safe and not stupid. I ended up going to some strangers’ wedding, with a date who was also a stranger, on January 1st. This set the tone for an entire year of finding myself in random situations with random people. Its legacy was making me more open-minded. And in 2019, I resolved to buy myself flowers at least once a month. That consistent little treat was of huge value as I navigated what turned out to be the craziest year of my life…until 2020.
You can resolve to give people more second (and third, and fourth…) chances. You can quit dating apps for a whole year. You can resolve to keep in touch with long distance friends by setting yourself a schedule to call or text. You can make focused changes to your diet, like quitting fast food. You can resolve to walk every morning before going to work, or even just stretch for a few minutes when you get out of bed. You can resolve to read for 15 minutes a day, or donate to a new GoFundMe each month, or find a very specific local charity to support with time and money.
This brings me to my resolution for 2021: I will not buy any new clothes for a whole year.* No new shoes or accessories, either. I will wear what I have, I will borrow, or I will thrift. Considering I spent most of 2020 in pajama pants, I think I can do it. It’ll benefit the environment and my conscience, help me recalibrate mindless spending, and cultivate gratitude and contentment. It’ll also probably introduce me to interesting new communities of people who are already living their whole lives this way.
*I will buy one new pair of running shoes when my current ones wear out, and new underwear, because ew.
If you’re going to make a resolution, remember that it doesn’t have to start on January 1st. Calendars are helpful but man-made tools, and you might have an amazing revelation in March or August for an exciting and beneficial change. But there’s an optimism and a sense of purpose to a new year that you can leverage into a meaningful goal.
If you do make a New Year’s resolution, choose something simple that you actually want in your life, and you’re more likely to keep it.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. What are you hoping for in 2021?
2. If there’s something you want to change, but it seems big and intimidating, what little piece of it seems manageable? (Fight an all-or-nothing mindset.)
3. Is your change focused more internally, or is it about connecting with others? What is the deeper purpose behind it?