I hate New Year’s resolutions. Which is surprising, because I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person. I’m that person who writes “make tomorrow’s to-do list” on the bottom of my current to-do list, just so I have the joy of crossing one more thing out.
The problem with this joy of achieving is it’s fleeting. At the end of the day, there’s still a new list of things to do tomorrow. With this constant need to be doing and achieving comes eventual stress and burn-out.
If you’re anything like me, you may have spent the last few weeks of 2017 exhausted. The holidays are supposed to be a relaxing time. Instead I made lists of presents to buy, people to see, and even a personal lists of chores to accomplish during the extra time off work. By the time January rolls around, the thought of making a list of New Year’s resolutions really doesn’t appeal to me.
If it’s your goal to start 2018 fresh with a #NewYearNewMe philosophy, I applaud you. I won’t say I haven’t made resolutions in the past—some I accomplished and some I did not. And I truly believe that even the goals I eventually failed at were worth making. They helped me grow and identify my limitations as a person.
However, my only resolution for 2018 is to not worry about being perfect. Potentially unattainable goals add a lot of stress to the lives of those that struggle with anxiety or already use their Type A personalities to put way too much pressure on themselves. If you are one of those people, or if you are just struggling with starting fresh without setting yourself up for failure, here are five resolutions I’ve made in the past, and five easy ways I plan to amend them for 2018.
1. Instead of exercising more, be more body positive
As someone who has spent her post-college years in every size from a two to a fourteen, I know loving your body is easier said than done. Exercise is great if you are doing it to feel stronger or more empowered. But the magical path to feeling comfortable in your own skin is not achieved through extra hours of cardio. In fact, there is no magical path at all. There’s only acceptance that you are doing your best. That sometimes your time is better spent getting brunch with friends or snuggling on the couch with a loved one than it is at the gym. And that people will still love you and find you attractive, even if your thighs jiggle and your stomach isn’t flat.
2. Instead of counting calories, eat intuitively
As a former English major, pretty much anything that involves numbers or counting immediately sets me up for failure. The only piece of healthy eating advice that has ever worked for me, is to eat as healthy as you can without feeling like you are depriving yourself. If there are certain fruits and veggies you know you enjoy, keep these stocked and readily available for snaking. Cook healthy versions of recipes you know you’ll like. But if you find yourself wanting a burger, and absolutely no substitution will do, than indulge. The ability to enjoy life is far more important than the never ending quest to tone your abs.
3. Instead of taking on more projects at work, take all of your sick days
I vow every year that I’m going to start getting to work earlier. This usually lasts for about two days. Mostly because if you live anywhere north of Florida it’s cold as heck in January. The icky weather combined with the limited hours of daylight makes it very hard to haul yourself out of bed in the morning. While I’m not trying to advocate anything that will get anyone fired, I think it’s important to remember your sick days and vacation days are there for a reason. And most of us aren’t using them.
In the past two and a half years that I’ve worked at my current job, I’ve taken a grand total of one sick day. However, I’ve had many days when I showed up and wasn’t at all productive, because I wasn’t feeling mentally or physically like myself. All this has gotten me is lots of fatigue and even more deadlines. 2018 is the year I vow to listen to my body and stay home more. Because your job is just one small fraction of your life, but your health is always important.
4. Instead of vowing to spend less time on social media, just block stressful people
I’d love to be one of those people who is able to completely unplug from social media or who doesn’t check it regularly because I just don’t care. However, I am not that person. I actually enjoy using Facebook to keep track of friends and family. I enjoy sharing photos and status updates as a way of showcasing creative work or just connecting with people. What I don’t enjoy is a feed full of updates from people I had one class with in college, especially that guy from chemistry who still remains an inexplicably proud Trump supporter. Some people aren’t worth arguing with.
If it’s someone who you couldn’t be bothered meeting up with IRL for at least a short chat, than leave them in 2017. You might actually find yourself spending less time on social media when you realize your online friends are a small enough group to keep track of without endless hours of scrolling.
5. Instead of making goals to write more/read more/be more productive, make self-care goals
This is probably the one I struggle with the most. I always want to do everything, but sometimes it just isn’t possible to work full time, go to the gym, cook, sleep, spend time with friends, and work on creative projects, all in one week. And, if it is, than I often leave out another important aspect of life—down time. Today’s society puts a lot of emphasis on the constant need to be productive, so much so that I often find myself forgetting that the purpose of creative projects or readings goals (or whatever your equivalent might be) is to enjoy yourself.
It’s important to make art when you’re feeling moved to make art. But it’s also important to take a bubble bath and go to bed early if you aren’t feeling inspired. It’s important to watch a show or read a book purely for escapism. Not because it’s educational or because someone told you to watch/read it, but because you enjoy it.
Life should be about enjoying yourself. If we don’t take the time to appreciate the things we achieve, what is the point of our constant productivity? To what end are we all trying to be a more perfect versions of ourselves? 2017 was not the year that I was perfect, and 2018 won’t be either. But it is the year we can all try to be happier and healthier than we were before, and permit ourselves a little forgiveness even when we aren’t.