New Year, New Me: The Trap of New Year's Resolutions

“New Year, New me!” This started off as a serious statement grounded in my New Year’s resolutions — A new year is a new year of possibilities. A new year is a new year of new goals. A new year will lead to a new me.

However, a few years ago, I began protesting New Year’s resolutions. My “New Year’s resolutions” were just goals that I’ve always had, and forming goals on the first day of the year doesn’t make them any different or more of a priority that my pre-existing goals. What I’ve also observed is that “New Year’s resolution” was just thrown around as a trendy phrase to make conversation with others in the first quarter of the year. They were often lofty unobtainable goals and forgotten by June. New Year’s resolutions have become the norm for our society to the point that it is strange if you don’t have them.

“Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?”

To this question, I would coyly answer: “I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions, but I do have a goal that I’m currently working on.”

To some, this may come off as condescending but I have noticed that most individuals respond curiously. “Why not?”

A ‘New Year’ doesn’t necessitate a ‘New Me’

Though it is comforting to feel that with a new year, you are starting off with a blank slate and starting anew, most times this is not truly the case. A new year is simply a continuation of the previous year with a change in notation for the date. Most likely, we are still at the same schools, same jobs, same families, and same situation as we were the previous year.

It is possible, however, to change our motivation, our desires, and our goals. The key to this, though, is maintaining our new motivation, staying consistent with our new desires, and ambitiously pursuing our new goals. That would necessitate a “New Me” but it would be a gradual process over time, not a “New Me” over night once the clock strikes midnight.

Keep On Keeping On!

Often, people would make New Year’s resolutions and set the goal to complete them by the end of the year. They would often make lofty goals, claiming that a year is a long time and definitely long enough to complete the goal. By December 31st, however, they would suddenly realize that maybe it wasn’t enough time.

The idea of New Year’s resolutions sets deadlines on things that might not need a deadline. If my goal is to improve my self care, this could be an ongoing goal that I work on this year, next year, and the year after. If my goal is to diversify my cooking repertoire, I might set a goal to explore five new recipes by the end of the year, but I probably won’t just abandon the goal after this year.

Deadlines may also set expectations that may lead to disappointment if we don’t meet our expectations. It is alright to make lofty goals but remember to be flexible to adjust goals as needed and to praise yourself for reaching smaller milestones on the way to achieving the large milestone! Every small change counts and we should commend ourselves for it.

Avoid falling into “traps”!

It is completely fine to form New Year’s resolutions each year. However, when forming these goals I hope that we can take some time to reflect on what these goals mean and to be mindful of not falling into these ‘traps’ that come with making New Year’s resolutions. Forming goals should be taking a step towards positivity, and shouldn’t be a trap leading us toward negativity.

A “New Year’s resolution” implies that it is a goal formed at the beginning of the new year, but I’d say that these goals can be formed at any point in time. Forcing ourselves to form goals for the sake of forming them will lead us to displeasure, disappointment, and discomfort. If you don’t have a new goal to be your New Year’s resolution, no worries! It can be a goal that you’re continuing to work on from the previous year, or your goal could be to reflect on what your short-term and long-term goals are.

As someone who doesn’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions in the traditional sense, my New Year’s resolution general goal for each year is: With each new year, I will have new goals that I can pursue to eventually grow to be a new me that I am proud of.

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