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I don’t know about you, but that list of New Year’s resolutions I made in January of last year, still hanging up faithfully on my closet door so I can’t miss them (this was supposed to be a tactic that made me all that more dedicated to them) are frankly just making me feel bad.
Look at optimistic January me! I had big plans! BIG. Some might even say unrealistic. Not January me—that version of me was convinced 2021 was going to be the year I did all the things I didn’t do in 2020 or 2019 or 2018…. Why sure, I’ll get that book written, I’ll find my abs again after two kids, I’ll start a daily meditation practice that’ll turn me into the calmest, least-yelliest mom ever. I’ll learn how to cook like Alex Guarnaschelli and I’ll finally perfect that handstand in yoga (which I’ll then post on Instagram for people to be impressed by). I’ll start earning more money (how? Who knows! It’ll just happen!) and I’ll read more books (maybe I’ll be one of those people who says they never watch TV anymore!) and I may even take up running. Everyone who runs always says how invigorating it is. Surely if I just start running, the other changes will just magically fall into place.
For many of us, it’s the act of making resolutions that feels productive. Plans require no more commitment than writing the list. It’s like buying self-help books—you’re doing something! But now, you need to read them. And then, implement what they advise. Those latter steps are harder.
I don’t need to tell you that, though. Most likely, you’re reading this because you’re in the Club of Unfinished Resolutions, too. Welcome! We have a lot of members.
Below, we came up with a few ideas on how we can get off the resolution hamster wheel this year.
Gifts > Resolutions
That list of resolutions made me feel good when I made and then promptly anxious every time I saw it again. It reminded me that I had a year to become a new version of myself. A year to change. A year to prove something.
This year, instead of a list of what we have to do, what if we all made a list of what we get to do? What if, instead of pressure, we gave ourselves presents? Instead of tasks, we gifted ourselves time.
A few years ago, we published a Self-Care Bucket List—52 things to do that would make you feel like a priority. They ranged from starting a garden to going to bed early (more sleep is the gift that keeps on giving).
New Spin: Take the idea of self-care and use it as your motivation. Say you want to end a relationship with a toxic partner. Award yourself accordingly when you do. “After I end the relationship, I’ll take a solo weekend vacation to my favorite city.” (If you’re leaving an abusive partner, we recommend first reaching out to an advocate at a shelter near you for advice on safety planning.) Maybe it’s an exercise goal. “After I start my day with a jog at least 10 mornings, I’ll take myself out to breakfast at my favorite restaurant.”
Don't Rush Things
In this 2018 piece, we give some tips on setting an achievable goal for the coming year. (We even included a reward phase!) Question #3 was, “What does that look like?” as in, your goal. Diving deep into one particular goal might get you further than setting a lot of ambiguous, broad resolutions like, “Do better” and “Try harder.”
New Spin: Take your favorite goal or resolution and come up with five (or 8 or 10) steps to making it happen. Try to accomplish one a month. For instance, if your goal is to become a better cook, creating dinners your family is not afraid to try, perhaps Month 1 is dedicated to watching cooking tutorials on YouTube. In Month 2, you take a weekend cooking class. In Month 3, you buy that cookbook you’ve been eying. In Month 4, you tackle an easy recipe. And so on and so forth. Who knows, by Month 12, you may be cooking alongside Alex Guarnaschelli on a Food Network show.
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Try Doing… Less
Before we were aware that 2020 was going to be the ultimate dumpster fire, we wrote this piece on becoming more mentally tough (prophetic, when you think about it). Now that most of us have added a shared trauma to whatever existing traumas we may have been healing from before 2020, it’s all the more reason to go easy on ourselves entering 2022.
New Spin: Set only one goal for this year—to get through it, one day at a time. Don’t think about where you’ll be in December, think about where you’ll be on Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Giving yourself permission to not focus so hard on the future can alleviate anxieties around the unknown and allow you to be more present right now. For survivors of domestic violence who often struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and guilt, the added pressure of reinventing yourself within 12 months is too much. When you feel like you need to be more and do more, tell yourself, I’m enough. This is enough.
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