New Year, Same Me: The Risk of Resolutions

Like many, I too feel the impulse to submit to the cultural convention of a New Year’s resolution (or multiple, if you’re like me). It is in recognition that I must need annual modification or improvement; I am like an appliance that needs to be vetted or a computer which needs a virus check and at the end of every year that check proves problematic. The duration of the next year is all about ironing out the edges, papering over the cracks, concealing the imperfections and trying to maintain a stable level of maturity (no wonder this is a yearly task). New Year’s resolutions are a testament to us never being satisfied with ourselves; it’s an annual self-intervention, and, more importantly, it seems ridiculous to set all our hopes, ambitions, modifications and adjustments within the time slot of a year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I truly know that I cannot alter all my habits and questionable behaviour in a year – I need the whole decade for that.

Nevertheless, New Year’s resolutions can have a positive effect on one’s life: it offers a constructive set of goals, it can promote a healthy lifestyle and diet, or introduce one to a new hobby or field of study. But, more than likely, after the over-indulgence of Christmas (cheeseboards alone), many of us feel the pressure to commit to a gym membership and a no-carb, no-sugar, no-processed, no-alcohol diet. I was one of those last year, but I did make waves in completing my goals for 2019:

  • Cut sugar out of tea
  • Get fit and lose weight
  • Become a better cook (one pair of burnt oven gloves later and I say I achieved this)
  • Reduce chances of dying alone

The last one I would not recommend but my list is only testament to the fact that, while New Year’s resolutions can be positive, for many like myself it’s a cycle of dissatisfaction with ourselves. My list, now I look back on it with 2019 behind me, encompasses aspects of myself that I was not happy with at the start of 2019. New Year’s resolutions are only good insofar as they are good for you and don’t shame you. My mindset when I constructed this list was very much along the lines of ‘New Year, New Me’. But really, after making a solid attempt at my resolutions, it was a new year but I’m still old me – albeit with less health concerns. Yes, it is a new year, but if you are searching for a new you it’s futile because the year should be about learning to love you, not change you. Resolutions like getting fit and losing weight should be for healthy and proactive reasons rather than because you are dissatisfied with yourself, which it very much was for me. I can tell you that your attendance at the gym actually becomes value for money when you come to terms with this.

The problem with “new” is it inevitably becomes “old”, and therefore resolutions are annual because if you achieve the “new you” at the end of 2019, she’s now old for the new decade of 2020.

While the mentality of “new you” can promote better lifestyle choices, it does not always promote a better outlook or perspective of yourself. Don’t let January blues define 2020. If you’re unhappy with something, change it because you want to not because it’s the start of a new year. I hope I do not dissuade anyone from making New Year’s resolutions as sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. If you choose to make a New Year’s resolution, make it reasonable, proactive and productive. I would not recommend a list, it was excessive I admit, but I enjoyed having a set of goals. I can’t lie, there were times I did not abide by the list, I cooked pesto pasta and didn’t go to the gym. But you must account for that – you have a year to allow for those days.

I think I benefitted, overall, from my resolutions. Going to the gym I found was the biggest stress relief (we will see how third year goes), I now hate sugar in my tea, and I have a wider variety of meals I can cook. On the last one, I am still single and massively overshare, however I’m happy and know I’ll make memories in 2020 regardless of whether its with my next tinder match or my friends and family. While I hope to gain a new perspective in 2020, I will still be the same me, just hopefully without the same mistakes. In fact, I don’t want to be a new me because I’m beginning to like her.

Emily Coleman





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