Ditch the resolutions for a more fulfilling year
January 25, 2023
New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite holiday. The promise of a new start is one of the most refreshing and exciting feelings.
While the holiday is a great time to reflect on your year and think about the upcoming one, New Year’s resolutions are often unrealistic and restrictive and turn the holiday into just another checklist of things to get done.
When I was a kid, my family would go to these massive neighborhood parties with rooms packed full of joy, warmth and laughter.
But as I grew up, I learned more about New Year’s resolutions. Quickly, the holiday became about reflecting on what I did wrong the year before and promising myself that I would be better this time around.
Usually, this meant promising that I would work out every day, get all A’s or eat better. I would tell myself if I completed these resolutions, this year would be mine to conquer and I would finally feel like I had spent it well.
However, by the second or third week of January, reality would set in, and I would wake up exhausted and already off-track from the resolutions I had set for myself.
Left with feelings of shame and disappointment, I would call it quits and tell myself I would do better next year.
Recently, I learned I’m not alone in this cycle.
The top resolutions people made for 2023 include eating healthier, exercising more and losing weight, according to a Chamber of Commerce article.
However, only 22% of Americans kept their resolutions in 2022, according to a Nov. 15, 2022 report from Statista.
It’s understandable that keeping resolutions is harder than making them.
These past few years have put stress on everyone, and many find it difficult to keep motivation when our resolutions are often focused on fixing our perceived flaws as opposed to actually celebrating our years—past and future.
In fact, the main reason for failed resolutions is a loss of motivation, with 35% of people citing it as their reason for not following through, according to a December 8, 2020 study from Ipsos.
New Year’s was first celebrated around 4,000 years ago, and is still one of the most widely celebrated holidays today, according to a December 20, 2022 article from History.
But a holiday that was once meant to praise the gods for the prosperity of the year has fallen into the hands of consumerism, as so many things have.
Now, we buy gym memberships, drink in excess one last time before we start focusing on our health and tell ourselves all of the ways we can use the upcoming year to be better.
I’ve started to pull away from the idea of resolutions. In my life, they’ve caused more harm than good and I’ve found better ways to celebrate my favorite holiday.
In Scotland, a celebration called Hogmanay rings in the New Year and includes house cleaning. The cleaning involves physically cleaning your house as well as paying any bills and debts in an effort to welcome the new year with a clean slate, according to the BBC.
Chinese New Year emphasizes family coming together, with traditions focused on giving to others and honoring family members who have passed, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
We persist through tough times, and the New Year is a celebration of this human perseverance. We get to congratulate ourselves on making it through one more year.
Some traditions I’ve started for myself include looking at photos from my favorite moments and making lists of things that have brought me gratitude in the past year. These, along with the aforementioned practices found around the world, feel like better ways to celebrate the accomplishment of living than the antiquated practice of making resolutions.
There are tons of great alternatives to making resolutions this year. One of my favorites is picking a word or a theme for the year, such as “wonder” or “persist,” that can act as a guide for your goals and priorities for the year.
Another great way to celebrate is to make a scrapbook of your favorite moments or write letters to the important people in your life. This will give you a chance to reflect on your year and get excited for the one ahead.
As January comes to a close, give yourself a break from rigid resolutions, take a breath and think about the moments of joy from the last year as you venture on into this one. You’re here, and you’re doing great.