Happy New Year! Congratulations to all of us for making it through another year. A staple of starting a new year is to create a New Year’s Resolutions list and I’m sure many of you have been working on your lists. Making New Year’s Resolutions can be a good tradition to have, it’s important to continue to work on yourself to be happy and be the best version of you that you can be. While there’s nothing inherently bad about making resolutions, things can get problematic when you’re pressuring or forcing yourself to do it. This is when resolutions can be counterproductive, especially after a tough year and well, saying that these past few years have been tough would be an understatement. After an endless pandemic, elections, violence, troubling politics, climate issues, inflation, and much more, most of us are burnt out and exhausted. So, trying to “improve” ourselves and making personal resolutions for the new year can seem like a daunting task. To be honest, people don’t often stick to their New Year’s resolutions which leads to more disappointment and stress and that makes it even harder to cope.
The pressure of making and the disappointment of breaking New Year’s resolutions can be counterproductive. I think that most of us have been surrounded by the mentality that success and productivity is what makes us valuable. I know personally, I’ve struggled with that way of thinking. Unfortunately, we live under capitalism, where profit is prioritized over social good, natural resources, our environment, and our wellbeing. So, it can be very difficult not to equate productivity with value.
These past few years with the pandemic, every New Year I’ve felt pretty useless because I kept feeling like I didn’t accomplish much or enough. And that is not a fun way to start a New Year. I know that resolutions are meant to motivate us, to help us get more done, be more productive, or make a change. But the reality is that sometimes all it does is increase our stress and make things worse. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to make a change and wanting to improve yourself. But I think you should ask yourself why this change will make your life better. Will making this change help you feel better or happier on a daily basis? Or are you doing it because you think you “should” do it? Like I said, we live in a society where productivity equals value. This grind or hustle culture is responsible for the burnout most of us experience. So instead of trying to focus on bad habits or fixing what’s “wrong” in your life, focus on awareness and releasing some of your self-criticism.
Now if you do decide that you want to make some type of change, then evaluate how big the change is and if that kind of change is reasonable and realistic right now. And when you are making resolutions, I think it’s important to remember to acknowledge and be proud of the progress you’ve made so far. The truth is, sometimes getting out of bed in morning is the hardest thing to do, and if that’s all you did in a day that’s still something to be proud of. So, for this New Year see if you can be gentler with yourself or give yourself this same kind of grace that you’d give to someone that you really love or care about whenever they’re struggling. I hope that this New Year we can all be kinder to ourselves.