I have a confession to make. I hate the beginning of the year. From New Year’s Eve to resolutions—I despise all of it. Last year, perhaps for the first time I can remember, I decided to totally eschew New Year’s Resolutions in the traditional sense. Here’s how I’m making the most of the New Year without falling victim to stupid bullshit.
NO EXPECTATIONS, NO LET DOWNS
I don’t really get caught up in the hype surrounding the passage of a New Year. For years, I was swept up in the annual appeal of the holiday and all that came with it. From planning a special night, centered around the ball drop to choosing resolutions, I was all in, hook, line and sinker—and I was always, inevitably, let down. When I recently shared on Instagram Stories that I dislike New Year’s Eve (to which almost 80% of polltakers agreed!), someone responded and said it’s like adult prom. Way too hyped up and always disappointing. I can’t think of a better analogy.
The problem with New Year’s Eve and the first part of the year, for me at least, center around the big expectations. NYE is supposed to be the biggest, most fun night of the year—a farewell to the last twelve months and an opening ceremony for the next 12 that lie ahead. Resolutions are supposed to propel you into the New Year as a better version of yourself. However, at least for me, they last about two measly weeks before I fail and end up feeling worse about myself than I did before.
In recent years, I have started doing what I want on NYE instead of what I’m societally expected to do and it makes me much happier. I also no longer set lofty, nonspecific, unattainable goals as my New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, my new rule is that I don’t let social convention dictate what I do with my life, at the beginning of a new year or at any time.
REFLECTING + LOOKING AHEAD
There are some things that I like about the end of the year and the start of a fresh one. I get very retrospective and introspective around this time and having a December birthday only amplifies that. What was the year like? Did I accomplish everything I wanted to? What did I fail at? Am I happy with where I’m at? How can I be better? Do better?
This is something I have done for years and years—honestly as long as I can remember. Most of the time, my reflection is totally organic and just happens. However, there are certain exercises and apps that you can use if you’re interested in doing the same but not sure how or where to start. Reflection.App makes a good annual review—and this piece from Medium can really help, too.
In my opinion, reflecting on the past year is more valuable than making vague resolutions that will expire quicker than the milk in your fridge.
IF THE CULTURE DOESN’T WORK, DON’T BUY IT
Arguably my biggest gripe with New Year’s is the marketing. I hate how we are bombarded with messages from October-December that the holiday season is upon us and we should indulge and enjoy ourselves. Then Jan. 1 hits and the messaging changes to, “time to drop that holiday weight, you fat piece of shit!” Even now, in the middle of pandemic!
I’m a proponent of people doing whatever they want/need to in order to feel good about themselves, but please be kind to your body. It has carried you through a pandemic. Who cares if you have a few dimples on your ass?
New Year’s is centered around cultural institutions that are in place to make you feel bad about yourself—and the companies that benefit from you doing so. I simply don’t buy into them anymore. Am I perfect? No. Are there things I want to change about myself? Of course. We all have room for improvement, in one way or another. But someone is benefitting from making you feel like shit—and spoiler alert—it isn’t you.
SET SMALL, REALISTIC GOALS
If you are someone who loves New Year’s Resolutions and is reading this and getting offended because I’m shitting on them, please don’t be. I love goals. I, myself, am an extremely goal-oriented person. So much so, that I wholeheartedly believe that you don’t need a new year or a new week to start something. Just do it! In the past, I have set really big goals for myself and ended up getting discouraged because I don’t reach them.
One of my favorite lines from the book Atomic Habits is, “meaningful change doesn’t require radical change.” I have adopted that mindset and it has totally changed my perspective. Instead of setting really lofty, unattainable goals, I am a big proponent of setting smaller ones that are actually achievable. Reaching those goals gives me a sense of accomplishment and boosts my confidence, and little by little, you can chip away at whatever pie-in-the-sky idea you originally sought after.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
The truth of the matter is that the holiday season itself can be really hard—even during a normal year. This year, the pandemic amplifies those already big feelings, making everything feel worse and harder. New Year’s is a different kind of beast because of the emphasis on reflection. If you had a hard year—which so many have—ruminating on that is not pleasant. It makes things worse when your social feed is full of people celebrating their success. From promotions to engagements and everything in between, it can be hard to not feel bad about yourself and where you are in life. And if you feel that way, that’s okay.
Last holiday season I was so incredibly depressed I could barely get out of bed. Little did I know that life was going to get exponentially worse before it got any better. We are coming out of, arguably, the worst year in our collective existence. If you are not where you want to be career-wise, physique, money-wise, or in any other way that is okay. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Stop with the negative self-talk, have some compassion for yourself and take 2021 one day at a time. We’ll all to where we’re supposed to be, eventually.
What are your feelings on New Year’s? If you hate it, you’re not alone. Do you set resolutions? Let me know!