2020 is a significant year for all of humanity; it marks a new identifiable decade ending in that scrumptiously, satisfying zero. It also marks the last ten years we have to combat climate change before the world evicts us – but let’s not get too morbid too quickly. Instead, I want to talk about the year to end all new years resolutions!
Last year I wrote a post on my old blog, Teenage Adoxography, entitled “The Wonderful Paradox of Routine Change“. Its working title was “In Defence of New Year, New Me,” but as I wrote it, I realised I was more enamoured with the oxymoron of shaking things up on schedule than defending resolutions. So this year, I’m presenting my case.
As much as I love new year’s resolutions, I know the sentiment is not universal. A quick search on Ecosia yielded dozens of articles arguing against setting goals for the upcoming year, with reasons enclosed about how they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.
We make the same resolutions over and over again.
We’re not motivated.
We’re stressed out by the prospect of working for change.
I get that. Lifestyles are subjective, and goals aren’t for everyone. But that doesn’t make them all bad – and I think we need to reassess how we look at resolutions.
I think they’ve been unfairly granted a negative connotation; apparently, January 1st demands we start saying no to ourselves if we want a better life. No sugar, no junk food, no lazy days – nothing. No wonder we don’t achieve what we set out to do: we’re set on removing things from our life, rather than adding to it.
Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar, said a similar thing in her book that I can’t recall or find word-for-word, but it’s the mantra of many an experienced resolution-maker.
Don’t subtract: add.
Another problem with new year’s resolutions is that we let expectations make our goals, rather than what excites us. Nayna Florence – a YouTuber and an economics major at the University of Edinburgh I’ve recently started watching – puts in quite eloquently a minute into her “realistic new year’s resolutions” video.
“If your only motivation is the fact it’s a new year I really don’t think you’re [going to] keep that resolution.”
My reasons for setting new year’s goals are because I do want to change. Desperately! There are so many valuable things I can introduce to my life – some everyday habits, and some grander dreams. The new year is just the motivation I need. Last year I wrote,
It’s the perfect trampoline. It gives off the illusion of wiping the slate clean and lays itself out for you to jump off. If there ever was a day that so perfectly embodied the spirit of momentum: it’s new years day.
I think that still rings true. Yes, it’s easy to say you can start improving whenever you’d like – but the order and structure of new years can be helpful. This year especially: 2020! Can the slate get any cleaner?
There’s no milestone like the final countdown, no pebble cairn quite like the first of January. It’s the perfect occasion to remind yourself of what you want to do with all the days ahead of you.
I will admit, we can slow down. This year, I am trying to be more gentle with the way I introduce new resolutions and goals into my life. I refuse to berate myself for messing up or giving up at the first obstacle.
My new years have never run smooth. My cat died on the first of January two years ago, the year before that our house became the sorry target of a maggot infestation as midnight struck. We went camping once to ring in the new year alone in the middle of the desert, underestimated where the tide came in, and our tent was washed away at two in the morning. This year was at least a little tamer – all I did was stay in my pyjamas.
But those January 1sts never set the tone for the year. Although I’ve had my fair share of tribulations, I’ve always been just as optimistic for every fresh start. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: reinventing yourself is hard. It’s easier if you don’t try to do it all at once. You don’t have to have everything set out on the first: plans ready to slip into and run with. You can take this time to be mindful and conscious about how you want this year to turn out.
Now is a good time as any to tell you I haven’t set 20 goals for 2020 yet. I want to – and I’m thinking about them – but I’m also trying to be more intentional. I’m doing a little open-minded research about what I want my year to look like – a little pre-reading, if you will.
So far, this is my advice to myself.
- Use active verbs and specific words.
- Have smart goals.
- Add into my life not subtract from it.
- Allow room for implementation and adaptation.
- Be genuinely passionate about what I set out to do.
Most of all: I want to enjoy it! And you can too; give yourself guidelines and goals but let go of the baton.
I’ll be back next week with my 20 goals for 2020!
PS: People who have inspired me lately:
Lucy Moon, a favourite of mine for a few years now, set twenty lovely goals for herself that may inspire me to do the same.
Nayna Florence, rising star, made the video I mentioned above and is inspiring with her sustainability efforts – and super wholesome in general.
This Pocket Mindfulness article written by an Alfred James makes some excellent point that I agree with – but I still stand by my defence for “new year, new me”.
Morgan Harper Nichols creates art – including this post’s featured image – and poetry inspired by unique people but I find that the affirmations can be applied to everyone – check out her Instagram for inspirational quotes you didn’t even know you needed!
And finally, Ashley – aka BestDressed – made a super cute vlog-slash-tutorial on how to own 2020!