As another new year approaches we come across a common tradition: resolutions for the future. 2017 has been rough on a lot of people including myself, so we see the new year as a time for reflection and making changes. Most of you probably feel like I did and wanted to exorcise the bad elements of 2017 from your lives, but I’ve also found over the years that new year’s resolutions can be damaging and negative to my self-image and mental health. So I decided to share a few tips on resolutions to help everyone have a great 2018 (and to work on one of mine, to write blog posts more consistently this year).
The main idea I’m trying to push here is to be realistic. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aspiring to improve yourself. Big dreams are important. But unrealistic resolutions are doomed to failure because you have to be patient and kind with yourself as well. We are often our own harshest critics because we don’t have a broad perspective on our own lives. This is why we are often cruel and insulting to ourselves in a way we would never be to our friends. So it is important to keep our resolutions simple, doable, and considerate to our well-being.
For physical resolutions, this means starting small and working up to bigger goals. If you want to exercise more try setting a goal of exercising once a week. It doesn’t seem like much, but once you achieve a smaller goal, you can work up to 2, 3, or even 7 days a week. But in the interim you aren’t disappointed in yourself for failing. Cold turkey is a difficult thing. Cutting soda, alcohol, or indulgent habits all at once is often virtually impossible. Usually I end up breaking the resolution once and then quitting altogether because I’ve disappointed myself. If you start small, you have accomplishments to be proud of. It’s amazing to make even a simple lifestyle change! Then you can manage your goals over time instead of putting all your hopes and dreams into things magically “getting better” as soon as January 1st hits each year.
I think it is also important to be kind to yourself and pick a few resolutions that are not physically based. We are such a body-stressed society. As soon as 2018 hit I noticed a huge uptake in diet meal plan and exercise ads on my Hulu. These are noble aspirations to be sure, but focusing on mental health is equally important and in some ways easily looked over. Sometimes we focus so much on the number on the scale or the size of our waistbands that we forget how we feel. Does your body feel good each day? Do you feel a sense of contentment in life? Weighing less isn’t a mental health magic bullet. Inner goals can be big like going to therapy more often or getting off social media to prevent negativity. But they can also be small, like hanging out with friends more or taking more time to do a cherished hobby. I often find that these goals make a huge difference in my life and keep me from staring in the mirror and entering a shame spiral.
A new year can be hard for a lot of people. Many of us lose loved ones or have a hard time being around our families for the holidays. So encouraging kindness around resolutions is important. We are human beings who are imperfect. A resolution is not a test to fail, and breaking one does not make you useless or stupid. It is more important to be realistic in the ways we improve ourselves because we are each special and so important to this world. I hope all of you have an extremely wonderful 2018 full of changes and exciting growth, and thank you again for reading this blog. It means so much to me!