By Rhianna McGhee (she/her)
Of course, it’s great to start off the year with the intention of eating more fruit or taking more risks, but is it realistic? By about February most have given up on their New Year’s resolutions, feeling worse than they did before setting the goal. From overconfidence at the beginning, or society deeming the New Year’s resolution as almighty in shaping our actions compared to most other motivators, we are being set up to fail.
We’ve grown up with the idea that ‘slow and steady wins the race’ so why chuck this now? Pick that ‘work in progress’ idea out of the bin and start there. The smallest change is often the catalyst for bigger improvements that are more likely to stick. The less you overwhelm yourself with mammoth tasks at the beginning of the year the better.
It’s not like we can suddenly change overnight and flick a switch in our brains that enables us to enthusiastically jump out of bed, do a five-mile run and come home to make the perfect breakfast, all before 9 am. Don’t get me wrong, if that is your routine then that’s brilliant, you’ve found what works for you. But for the sleep-deprived and overworked masses, this is often not the case.
Realistically we can’t all be ‘that’ girl or guy. Some of us enjoy a lie-in and a greasy bacon roll from time to time, and that is perfectly acceptable. Instead of making drastic lifestyle changes as we enter a new year, let’s just try to be a bit more active throughout the day and eat meals that make us happy, while working on seeing every day as a fresh start and a chance to live the life we deserve.
Balance is key. Accepting potential failure and moving on is key. We put so much thought into what our New Year’s resolution is going to be that by the time we have decided, we are so mentally exhausted that the goal seems virtually impossible. Instead, let’s look at the New Year as a potential bucket list of things that we have to look forward to. Take this and use it to mould the next year of your life. Don’t try to change parts of yourself that have allowed you to make it into the New Year in the first place. Try to recognise the good parts of you rather than focus on the things you want to change.
Treat yourself with respect in the New Year. Everyone has different goals and the biggest struggle is often seeing where you measure in society. It’s easier said than done but try to pull yourself out of societal expectation and narrow in on the reason you feel the need to make a change. Sometimes it’s just the concept of a New Year’s resolution that makes you believe you need to act on ‘improving’ yourself. Where in reality, you can recognise the exciting prospects of entering a new year without bringing along the ‘new me’ mentality.
This isn’t to say that people wanting to improve themselves and feel better isn’t valid, merely the most important part is that you are making changes because you want to and not because you saw it on TikTok. In the long run, this approach will last longer than the unrealistic expectations you place upon yourself because society makes you feel you have to.
Upon making some easily attainable goals you may just find that you become ‘that’ person who seems to have it all together. But just know that it’s also perfectly fine if the only vegetable you’ve managed to eat one week is a munch on some crispy fries. Just ask yourself if you feel okay and then go about your next day based on that answer.
The moral of the story is that New Year’s resolutions are bad. New Year is good in the way that it allows us to reflect on ourselves and our lives from which we can move forward and grow. However, society has grown to pressure us into unrealistic overnight change and this is verging on creating a toxic relationship with New Year. The best advice is to just take it day by day and trust yourself.