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New Year’s Resolutions Without Expectations

Every year, around Jan. 1, thousands of various New Year’s resolutions flood our time lines and lives. Some people make a ton and keep none. Some make one or two and keep them faithfully all year. Some vehemently abhor them.

Whatever your stance on resolutions, we all know the fundamental aspect to them is the idea of change. We all want to make beneficial changes to our lives, and for many, New Year’s resolutions seem to be the perfect opportunity to do so. So why do they fall through for so many people?

For me, I think part of it is the expectation. We go into this brand new, totally blank year and set all of these expectations for ourselves. We are determined that this year will finally be the year where we are better. Yet in all this build-up of expectation, we forget about grace and our inherent humanity.

Yes, it is good to want to make a change in our lives but we have to remember that change is hard and arduous and cannot be achieved simply because the number at the end of the date has changed. Change can happen at any point in the year. It doesn’t have to be in January. If you want to start using less plastic, start now. If you want to work out more, go to the gym the next time you have free.

Plus, you should want to make a change because you feel like it is something you will appreciate and will benefit you in the long run. Just because everyone else is resolving to workout more doesn’t mean you have to. Maybe the circumstances of your life or mental health doesn’t allow that to be a possibility for you. That’s okay. You are not defined by a list made at the beginning of the year that hardly anyone sticks to.

At risk of sounding contradictory, my resolution, in the loosest sense of the word, for the year was to not put expectations on the year. I want to be able to try new things whenever I want– not wait for an arbitrary date that ‘allows’ me to begin something new.

I also don’t want to make it to the end of the year and have all this weight of failed resolutions hanging around me when I should be celebrating what I did accomplish this year. I want to be more open to whatever is in store, and not miss out on opportunities I may be offered just because it wasn’t in my plan or resolution for the year.

I challenge you to reflect on how resolutions and the keeping or failing of have impacted your own mental health. Perhaps the making of resolutions leads to you spending December feeling like you failed at everything you set out to do in January. Or, if you are a goal-oriented person, evaluate how your resolutions line up with your actual goals in life. Are you making resolutions that will help you achieve what you want in your career and growth as a person, or are you just making resolutions because society tells you should?

At the end of the day, resolutions are a personal decision and should be treated as such. If you enjoy them, make them (but don’t let them consume you). If resolutions stress you out, ignore them and just do you. The goal should be up keeping your mental wellbeing. If making resolutions is negatively impacting you, step away! It’s okay. The world won’t end, and your year will be just fine.

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