New Year’s Resolutions: Self-Improvement or Self-Sabotage?

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New year, new me.  Probably the most overused phrase you’ll hear pretty much constantly for the first weeks of January before everyone gives up on that year’s mission of self-discovery.  Conversations will revolve around gym memberships, fad diets, and diary-writing before everyone realises it’s too cold outside and exams are too stressful to bother.

But this year we’re entering a new decade.  Maybe that’ll mean our resolutions actually stick this time?  Or perhaps we shouldn’t have them in the first place.

The UK’s most common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, quitting smoking, reading more, saving more money, starting a new hobby, and spending more time with family.  All of these sound like great ways to improve your life, and if you manage to achieve any of them by setting resolutions then that’s brilliant, but it’s hardly healthy to assume that you’ll be able to change your entire lifestyle just because Big Ben has struck twelve times.

Another common resolution is of course the classic cliché, ‘living life to the fullest’.  What does that even mean?  Trying to achieve something so vague is setting yourself up for failure from the get-go, and also makes you sound like a typical wishy-washy millennial: not a great way to start the year.

I’m not saying New Year’s resolutions are never going to work.  The beginning of a year, and perhaps especially a decade, could be the perfect incentive to kickstart the changes you’ve been meaning to make.

The key is to be realistic.  If you want to go to the gym more, plan to go every other day to begin with, rather than launching yourself into a six-day-a-week bodybuilder-style regime when you can still only bench 25kg.  If you want to join more societies, sign yourself up for a couple of taster sessions rather than joining a different one on every evening of the week which you’re never going to actually keep up with.

I’ve definitely been guilty of giving up on resolutions in the past, but I think that’s because I haven’t had a plan of how to approach them.  Have a think about whether your resolutions really suit how your life is going at the moment, and if you’ll be able to commit to them properly, otherwise the whole thing will end in disappointment.

Of course, there’s no requirement to change anything about yourself this New Year.  Only make resolutions if you’re aiming to better yourself because you want to, rather than for anyone else’s benefit.  This new decade will bring a multitude of opportunities for all of us, and we don’t necessarily need to change ourselves to succeed in them.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck for 2020!

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