New Year’s Resolutions are Bullshit (and why I Still Use Them)
After 20+ years of making and failing at my New Year’s resolutions, I’m finally calling bullshit. I used to think my failures were a result of my incredible lack of self discipline. It always felt so good, setting all these goals and dreaming big for the year ahead. After all, a year is a looooong time to accomplish something, right? Except before I know it, the year has flashed by and not only have I not reached any of my goals, but I can’t even remember what half of them were.
It’s frustrating as balls, feeling like you suck at life year after year after year. It’s discouraging and kinda makes me want to cry into my medium stuffed crust pizza (that I ordered all to myself with my last $20), finally accepting my fate as a poor, fat, unsuccessful, unmotivated human being, living a poor, fat, unsuccessful, unmotivated life.
Thankfully, I’m a stubborn mofo. And I really don’t take kindly to being told I can’t do something, even when it’s me telling me I can’t do something. So every year, I make new resolutions. Every year I pick myself up and dust the shortbread crumbs off my face from my final holiday binge. Every year I dream about next year…when I’m going to drink less, eat less, exercise more, save more, spend less, work harder and finally become the person I want to be, having all the things I want to have.
It dawned on me, at long last, that making resolutions is bullshit, and that I’m setting myself up for yet another year of craptastic failures every time I make them. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, trying to contain all of your hopes and dreams into one measly year is beyond ridiculous. Given what happens over the course of a year…the ups and downs, changes and setbacks…it is stupid to expect that, come December 31, your year’s achievements are going to be neatly bundled up with a pretty bow on top. Seriously.
Second, the whole build up to the new year, getting ready to start fresh January 1, putting all your hopes and expectations on that first day/month of the year is dumb. The idea that there’s a particular day of the week/month/year that’s best for starting a new workout plan or a new financial plan is a great way to make excuses for every other day when you don’t feel like working your ass off.
This has been my pattern of behaviour for so long. It’s kind of sad that it took me so long to recognize it. But it’s true, and I do it in so many areas of my life. ‘I’ll start my healthy eating on Monday’ ‘I’ll start saving money next pay cheque’ ‘I’ll start writing daily January 1st’. And then the time comes and if I don’t do it perfectly or I miss a day or screw up somehow, I scrap the whole plan until next Monday/month/January 1.
The reality is, there’s no one day that is better or worse for working hard on your dreams and plans.
So yea, I totally call bullshit on New Year’s resolutions. But, as the title of this post says, I still use em. I just change the purpose they serve in my life and how I look at them. Instead of creating this pretty little package of dreams to work for and hopefully achieve by the end of the year, I take a look at my long term goals and then set intentions for the year. Kind of like stepping stones to take me from point a to b to c and so on.
Rather than say, ‘I want to lose 100 lbs this year’, I look at areas I struggle with in terms of food and exercise and then come up with some ideas that will help overcome those issues. Because it’s all well and good to decide to ‘eat healthy’ and ‘exercise more’ as of January 1, but if you know that you typically crave and indulge in lots of sweets after dinner every night and you don’t make a plan for dealing with it, you’re on your way to falling flat on your chocolate covered face. Again.
On the flip side, if you make a plan for it and still, for whatever reason, screw up, don’t quit the plan for the week or month or year. As soon as you’ve realized where you messed up, stop. Start over that instant. One fuck up won’t derail your life any more than one victory will fix everything. You have to think long term, lifestyle habits, not one year of work to become completely successful.
It’s actually pretty liberating to take off the one year time limit and stop thinking in terms of start date and end date. Deadlines on goals stress me the fuck out. When I don’t completely reach my goal in time I feel like I’m a gigantic loser who can’t accomplish anything, forgetting all the hard work I put in and the headway I made. I would way rather celebrate each day’s successes and learn from each day’s failures than gauge my entire year’s success on whether I checked everything off my list of resolutions.
I am a work in progress and will be till the day I kick the bucket. That’s the only deadline and is at this point unknown. So I’m going to get up every day, whether it’s the 1st of January, or a Wednesday in March, and try and be better than I was the day before.