“It’s a new year and a new me.” If I had a drink for every time I heard that irritating expression between Boxing Day and the end of January I would desire something new myself – a new liver to be specific.
Call me a pessimist, but I regard most new year’s Resolutions as not only a waste of time but also a counterproductive idea. I’ve never been a fan of the self-depreciation that occurs every year come January the first. As we leave the merriment of Christmas behind us we dive straight into a period of self-loathing where we suddenly decide the ‘us’ of the past year was not good enough and needs drastic improvement. And so, we make ourselves the same promises again and again – ‘this year I’ll lose weight’ or ‘this year, I’m going to find love’. We use the new year to challenge ourselves to reach goals that may be admirable, but aren’t always achievable and when the inevitable failure comes, we are left crushed.
Now don’t get me wrong, changing yourself for the better has its merits. You want to stop smoking? Brilliant! You plan on exercising more? Go you! If you are serious about adapting your lifestyle to make 2018 a happier and healthier year for you then I will support you all the way. But, at the same time, we shouldn’t set ourselves up for failure.
My cynicism of New Year’s resolutions and previous experience of failure means I rarely make resolutions anymore. This doesn’t mean I think I am the best version of myself I can be, it just means I don’t buy into the myth that we can literally change ourselves overnight. If we want to make our next year better, it will take a bigger commitment than wishful thinking.
Self-improvement is important, but we should strive to make more practical changes to our lives, rather than futile promises that only lead to disappointment. We have grown to believe that New Year is a magical time where the clock will strike twelve and our lives will change forever. However, life isn’t a fairy-tale. Just because you’ve decided 2018 will be the year you are lucky in love doesn’t mean Prince Charming will come knocking at your door by February. So, whether you make your resolutions or not, the key is moderation. Don’t promise to radically change yourself. Set achievable goals and accept that life won’t change drastically just because you want it to.