The internet, the office, the streets and who knows what else are rather awash with discussion at the moment on the big January tradition; New Years Resolutions. Half of what I’ve heard is ‘this year I’m going to change this’ or ‘my resolution is to…’ and half of it is ‘no new years resolutions plz’ and ‘you don’t need to change anything’. I am taking the rather greedy stance of saying both ‘here are my resolutions and I’d love to hear yours’ and ‘you don’t need to change anything’, but I will say that it’s been really encouraging to watch people snub the notion that we need to change ourselves to fit some unattainable ‘ideal’, rather than appreciating who we are already.
Because what a lot of those who are eschewing the New Years Resolutions this year have already said a great deal more eloquently than me is so important; you are probably pretty wonderful as you are. You don’t have to make a point of setting up some grand plan to change yourself. You don’t have to be in the gym every day, or start ‘eating clean’ (my most hated phrase of all and a rant worthy of a full blog post), or start doing things that you don’t actually enjoy.
And if you don’t feel motivated to make any change at all at the moment – that’s okay too. Quite clearly we’re not all going to feel a burst of energy and inspiration at 00:01 on New Years Day, and while some go into January feeling renewed and excited to plot for the year ahead, others of us are just trying to get our little hamster wheel moving at all after a mound of chocolate slowed it to a halt at the end of December. There can be a lot of pressure at this time of year to suddenly ‘improve’ and feel different than you did a week ago; and if you’re feeling the weight of that pressure, it’s important not to be too hard with yourself.
That’s not to say that resolutions – when they aren’t too strict, they are achievable and they are things we actually want to do/try – are a bad thing though. Setting out some ideas for what changes we want to make over our next year on this wonderful but rather fucked up planet can be great for focus and motivation. If we didn’t ever embrace change, we would never actually move forward or do anything, and if someone wants to make their change right now, after some time off and hopefully a rest…well, go for it.
Yes, you can set goals or make a change all year round; that is a given. However, having just reflected on the previous year it does feel natural to then think about progress for the next – despite starting the year already feeling a bit tired, I know it’s something I’ve been quietly considering. If the new year does gives you that sense of renewal and optimism, January is likely to be a positive and motivational time, perfect for making a couple of realistic resolutions that will actually make you happy. And if it isn’t, then no worries. Like literally everything ever apart from maybe breathing, what’s right for some people is not right for others.
If you’re not into resolutions, please bare in mind that everyone deserves not to be laughed at for giving something new a go or trying to lessen a habit which is impacting on their health or wellbeing. It’s very disheartening to have someone groan and roll their eyes when you’re trying your best, so don’t deny people their chance to make a change without being disparaged. If they don’t stick with whatever it is they’re doing, that’s cool, so please lets have none of the bizarre bitter joy when someone ‘fucks up’ a new years resolution either. They either tried their best, so good on them, or they didn’t and it doesn’t matter anyway, because as we’ve already covered, they’re probably great as they are.
I’ll confess to being one of the first ones to roll my eyes when it’s January 3rd, I arrive at the gym and it’s full of new members, but 1) I’m horrible, and 2) it’s not them that’s annoying, it’s the fact that there’s not enough space or equipment to accommodate these new members plus the existing ones. I’ll be avoiding that reaction this year, because I bet at least one of them has had it implied to them that they wont keep it up, or that their efforts are stupid. I’ve seen a lot of the phrase ‘stupid resolutions’, and while I’m on board for this in the sense of resolutions that are stupid, such as extremely strict diets when that person doesn’t even enjoy the food they are eating, I couldn’t use it to describe resolutions, goal-setting or intentions as a whole.
Because somewhere along the way, ‘New Years Resolution’ has become synonymous with ‘Restrict eating’ or ‘Change yourself’ or ‘Stop doing something that you like doing’ – and in particular, we’ve come to associate it with crazy fad diets and excessive, unrealistic exercise plans.
But that’s not what it has to mean. It’s a decision, a promise to yourself, to do or not do something during the year ahead. Nowhere does this say ‘become something you are not’. Simply, it’s resolving to make a change in the way or regularity that you do or don’t do something. And this could be anything; body positivity, gratitude, having fun, relaxing, learning. One of my new years resolutions one year was to stop my restricted eating behaviours. It doesn’t have to be about taking enjoyable things away from yourself or doing things you hate in order to become something that our society and media say is best. So if you are going to make some resolutions, think about what you really want and not what you think you should.
I do have a few new years resolutions this year – none of them are strict, and all of them are with the aim of becoming a happier person. My promise to myself is to work (and not-work) towards a more balanced way of living that includes allowing myself to do nothing, rather than being terrified by the idea of wasting time. I will try to be kinder, and less judgemental, to others and to myself, because sometimes I’m not very nice. I resolve to try where possible to not open messages and emails when I am not in a position to respond. I want to get better at keeping in touch with people and enjoy meaningful time with my friends more but also learn when to say no. I’d love to read more books too. I don’t have any that are related to exercise because this is something I do all the time anyway, and I don’t have any that are related to diet…apart from maybe not eating a share bag of crisps every day of the year. I’ve already succeeded at that one, so bring on the frazzles.
Wherever you sit on this one, I hope 2018 brings you happiness and health. If you see someone trying to make a positive change (note: positive change, this does not include the celery stick only diet – hopefully this is obvious), even if you think it is unlikely to stick, don’t scoff, and don’t discourage.
And if you’ve made some resolutions this year that end up sliding, if you decide it’s not for you or life has other ideas; be kind to yourself, because you’re probably pretty great the way you are.
Do you have any resolutions for 2018?
Coat – H&M | Top – New Look | Culottes – New Look | Bag – Zara | Boots – New Look | Earrings – Asos
Photography: Rob Poor
7 thoughts on “A chat about balance in our approach to New Years Resolutions”
I never usually make any resolutions, but I decided to this year as I wanted something to focus on a little during a busy year! Although I would like to think there are all things I can do everyday such as walking a bit more and making more time to read. I love the idea of a balanced approach to new year goals, too many people put pressure on there selves! xxx
I kind of think resolutions are stupid too because i feel like people will be back to their old selves in a month. I only had one resolution which was to have more of a work life balance, and that was about it.
Such an awesome coat and love the accessories!
Have you had your hair done? It looks so beaut! I’m in team no resolutions this year, although there are little changes I’d like to make – I think you’re so right when you say that resolutions have become synonymous with something negative so I guess technically I have made some, just not restrictive/negative ones! My main one is being kinder to the environment, firstly by doing veganuary and also by trying to reduce plastic waste – I’ve also just ordered a reusable takeout cup for the heap of coffee that I drink!
My resolutions have been the same every year for years; try to be better at things I want to be good at.
I completely agree with this and I’ve definitely decided to go easier on myself this year with the resolutions and not put so much pressure on myself!
Love the photography in this post by the way, you’ve got yourself a new reader! Xx
Can I just say, I love your writing style? So easy to read.
This quote: “It’s a decision, a promise to yourself, to do or not do something during the year ahead. Nowhere does this say ‘become something you are not’. Simply, it’s resolving to make a change in the way or regularity that you do or don’t do something. ” I love it.
I agree with you, I think that so often New Years Resolutions or New Years Goals tend to be unhealthily idealistic:
“I want to be thinner than I’ve ever been and that will solve all of my problems and I will therefore be a happier person.”
Instead, I prefer the idea of adding new habits to our daily routine to slowly usher us toward better mental and physical health.