I’m not gonna lie—every time I see a post about New Year’s resolutions, I can’t help but sigh a little bit. Although I believe 100% in goals, inspirations, and being your most badass self, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.
Why? Because I think that, the way they’re often used, they’re the equivalent of setting yourself up for failure.
OK, so bear with me through a cheesy metaphor for a second. Imagine that your life is one big, long road, and you’ve been walking consistently on a flat road, with no hills at all, for 365 miles. But at the end of every 365 miles, the road forks. You have two paths to choose from: One way, there’s a sudden massive, steep hill that you have to climb if you want to keep going; the other way is just the same, flat road. Naturally, you’d choose the flat road for so many reasons.
That’s exactly what New Year’s resolutions are like—that is, the way many people treat them. Many live their lives the exact same way throughout the year, then find newfound invigoration and inspiration come December 31st. They say they’re *finally* going to start that book they’ve always wanted to write, or they decide they’re going to lose 50 pounds and get a gym membership.
And that’s great! It’s always awesome to improve yourself. But there’s a reason why gym memberships spike come the beginning of January, only to slowly taper off over the next month; there’s a reason all your friends share way more of those inspirational quotes on Facebook during the first couple weeks of the year than ever.
When I say I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I’m saying that I don’t believe in suddenly setting massive expectations for yourself at one time of the year when you haven’t built a foundation for change. If you follow that flat road throughout the year, then suddenly expect yourself to accomplish a vast goal every January 1st, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I’m all for keeping promises, including self-promises, but not keeping your resolutions isn’t about willpower, because you’re forcing yourself to make the decision between scaling a massive hill or walking the same road. Any sane person would choose the flat road if the hill is looming over them, even if they try climbing that hill for a couple weeks.
New Year’s Day is a great time to reevaluate your life, to start with a clean slate and think about what you really want. But if you only consider these things on January 1st, you’re asking a lot of yourself if you suddenly decide you’re going to write 2,000 words every day or hit the gym at 6 a.m. every morning.
Instead of climbing a massive hill, imagine walking a very slight hill instead—but consistently over those 365 miles. Sure, there may be little dips and inclines, but nothing you can’t handle. It’s not enough to make you exhausted and burned out, but gives you a slight little burn in your legs, the kind that reminds you that you’re always going up a little bit every mile. And by the end, when you look at how far you’ve came, you realize that you’re so much higher up than you started.
New Year’s is great inspiration, and it’s a amazing, refreshing feeling to start a brand new year with 365 miles ahead of you. Making a resolution that adds to your goals, that gives a little boost to what you’re already doing or adds another dimension to your day — that’s fabulous. But if we treat a resolution as a crutch, as a totally life-changing thing, by only pay attention to our goals at the end of the year and spend every ounce of our energy going as high and fast as possible — well, those miles won’t be fun, because no one wants to scale a hill. You can’t make a major life change based in what you don’t want to do, and rightfully so, because shouldn’t we be living the way we want to?
That said, if we constantly evaluate and reevaluate where we’re going and how we’re getting there, we’ll not only reach our goals, but go far beyond them.
Make resolutions for yourself every day. Always work towards bettering yourself in any way that would make you (and only you!) truly happy; don’t just save it for January. Because you don’t deserve a crash and burn. You deserve that nice little burn in your legs.
[Image via Searchlight Pictures]