The 1st of January does not only bring a change of year, but the expectation that we must change ourselves.
The idea of New Year’s resolutions dates back to Roman times, when Julius Caesar ruled that New Year began on January 1st and encouraged his subjects to commit to personal improvements. Romans began the year by making vows to the god Janus, after whom the month of January is named.
However, in our modern world, it seems that we find it increasingly difficult to stick to our New Year’s resolutions – with a reported failure rate as high as 80%. Most of us set overly ambitious goals which we promptly forget or abandon – a quarter of people apparently give up their resolutions after one week.
Have you ever heard somebody talk about their new year’s resolution in July? The concept of resolving once a year to become a better person has become outdated; it is increasingly difficult to improve in a world where nothing else seems to be improving around us.
In her book ‘Presence’, Amy Cuddy declares that the practice of setting resolutions can in fact be harmful to us. Usually we set unreasonable goals, and when we don’t meet them it is demoralizing and lowers our self-worth.
Each year, we find ourselves in the exact same position as the previous year, a cycle which perpetuates feelings of failure and inadequacy. As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
If we’re being realistic, we all know that we’re not going to get upat6amtogoforarunevery morning, or never touch a packet of crisps again.
Instead of putting this immense pressure on ourselves at the start of each year, we should be kinder to ourselves. 55% of resolutions are health-related, such as losing weight, eating cleaner and exercising more. If resolutions are coming from places of insecurity, perhaps we should resolve to become more comfortable with ourselves, rather than to go to the gym. Resolutions are commonly based on the expectations of others and driven by a need to conform to societal norms.
In 2020, make a resolution to set no new year’s resolutions. The new year should bring a feeling of freedom, rather than anxiety. January 1st is just another ordinary day in the calendar – you can reset your calendar every day for a fresh start and make short term, achievable goals that won’t leave you feeling disappointed and demotivated. Start a new decade with no pressure or unrealistic expectations, resolute to take life day by day and be your best self!
Image: via PxFuel