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Resolve not to set resolutions



The question I’ve heard most in the last month, and that I hear every single December and January is “What are your resolutions this year?”

The answer used to be “I don’t know.” Then it was “I don’t make resolutions,” which shifted to, during my rude phase, “I don’t make resolutions because they’re stupid.” Now the answer is “I don’t make resolutions, because I do something different.” I’ll get back to this.

I have a problem with resolutions as a whole, and I think that stems from the word itself. According to Google, the word “resolution” means a firm decision to do or not to do something. You’ve resolved to do or not to do something, and that’s that. No ifs, ands, or buts. The problem I have is with the rigidity of the word. There’s no space for change, no wiggle room in case something goes sideways. If you say you’re not going to eat any sugar this year, the second you have a cookie, you’ve failed your resolution. It’s the absolutes that bother me, and the link to being a failure if you don’t follow your resolutions exactly.

Then there’s the problem with resolutions themselves: they’re often A. vague (I want to eat healthier), B. unachievable (dropping everything and moving to Tahiti when you have $15,000 in student loans to pay off), or C. something we think we should do, not something we want to do (going to the gym five days a week when your idea of exercise is walking around the block twice a week).

According to Psychology Today, 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fizzle out by February. Not exactly promising. Why do they bite the dust so quickly? Because your goals are unclear, you’re overwhelmed (i.e. your goals were too lofty for the time and energy you currently have), you’re discouraged (because you’re not seeing immediate results), you aren’t ready to change.

Because of these reasons, I don’t make resolutions. Instead, at intervals throughout the year when I feel stuck or stagnant, I re-evaluate what I’m doing. Am I happy with my job, what I’m doing with my free time, where my future is headed? Am I growing as a person, changing who I am for the better? No? Something needs adjusting.

If you set resolutions at the beginning of the year and only at the beginning of the year, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re missing out on the opportunity to check in with yourself periodically, which means you’re not learning to listen to what your body and mind really need.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with identifying things you want to do differently and then doing them. But the key is listening to what you want to achieve, then actually doing that. Past that, you don’t need an arbitrary date on the calendar to tell you when to re-evaluate your life. You can do that any time you want: once a month, on the full moon, every third Tuesday. It’s up to you.

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