Why I No Longer Make New Year's Resolutions

Whew. 2020. 

The end of another year, another decade; where to start?

I’m sure by now, blog sites are flooded with instructions and tips on making the best of the new year, with a new slate and new intentions.

While I don’t take issue with setting new intentions and love the spirit of ushering in new beginnings (that phrase has always seemed like double-wording to me; what “beginning” isn’t new? I digress), where I do my virtual eye-roll is this pressure that we need a date to define when to start.

There’s no time like the present. We’ve heard it before, and it will always be true. This is simply because the past is the past; no matter what, it cannot be changed. And the future, well, the future is an interesting concept.

If you think about it, “the future” is an idea. It’s nothing tangible. It’s a plan, anticipation, hope, but, still, it’s like the past — you can’t really do anything about the future either. You can alter the path of the future by your present, but by the time the “future” arrives, it’s already the present. And then it quickly becomes the past. Just like that. It’s how life works here. Time is a concept.

What is Monday? The day you’re going to start your diet. Right. How’d that work the last time? Why not make day 1 this day? It’s here now, and you can do something about it now.

What is next month? January. The perfect time to start that new 30-day challenge. But, honestly. If the challenge is 30 days, it’s going to be the same whether day 1 is on the 1st of the month or the 4th. If it matters, if you’re committed, if you’re serious, you don’t need a new month to start fresh.

Maybe you tell yourself it’ll be easier to keep up with the days of a challenge if they’re aligned with the calendar days in the month. OK. That makes sense to me. But can you still prepare in advance, if today is the 15th, to make the day 1 on the 1st a bit smoother? It seems where most folks fail is doing “the most” leading up to starting something new, then quitting cold turkey to start fresh. 

I’m sorry, but that just seems like torture. Especially if the 30-day diet/fitness/motivation (insert the appropriate type here) challenge is anything like the ones I’ve done. Day 1 is getting you prepared for the next 30 days; you, ideally, should be preparing yourself leading up to the start.

What is a new year? It’s a fantastic time to be alive. Not everyone has made it, and we celebrate that feeling with feel-good vibes, fancy parties, and black-eyed peas. It’s the time to reflect over the past year — what went well, what could’ve gone better, what would you like to change, what would you like to maintain — and make this one better than the last. Right?

Right. Yes, it is all those things.

But you know what the new year is also? Well, this year it’s a Thursday. Smack in the middle of the end of the week, prepping for the weekend. It’s not a new week. It’s a new calendar, a new day, a new chance to mess up writing the date for the first couple of months.

If you want to make some changes, you don’t need someone’s calendar to make it real. If it’s important, why not start now?

You don’t need December 31st to delete contacts who annoy you, unfriend or unfollow accounts that bother your spirit, jot down goals, or start a new morning routine.

You can start when you’re ready. January 1st won’t hold you any more accountable than day 4, day 29, day 138, or day 365 of 2020. It’s you who decide, and you who makes it happen.

One of my 2019 book reads was Eckhart Tolle’s Practicing The Power of Now. In this book, Tolle presents several practical perspectives on the power of the mind, surrendering to right now (as opposed to punishing ourselves for the past or being anxious about the future), and the effect our consciousness plays on our everyday lives and relationships.

I have several notes from the book, but one I’d like to emphasize that compliments the theme of this piece is how we can learn to accept the now by taking a note from nature. Animals and plants teach us how to live and die, and it should be our mission to figure out how to do both without stressing. We’re here while we’re here, and gone when we’re gone. Death is inevitable, so why fear it?

The reason this point was so powerful for me is how many times has society put the pressure to plan our future to the tee, and how many times has life shown us it doesn’t work that way?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for planning. I love it. I embrace structure because it keeps my anxiety low. However, I realized that this tendency was me not living in the now. Relying too heavily on organizing every single detail meant not being aware of the effect that my harmful consciousness has on my body and energy field.

Of course you’ll need to make some plans for the future. We can’t live every day like there’s no tomorrow literally because that would be irresponsible. 

The point is to not get so caught up in the tomorrow that you neglect the significance of today.

What New Year’s resolutions are to me now is disregarding what I feel I need to do, or change, or accept… until January 1. There’s no reason for me to put off tomorrow what I can do today. 

(And yes, I’m intentionally putting in all these cliche phrases we’ve come to use so heavily because not many of us actually abide by the words we speak or the advice we’ve been given.)

If you know tomorrow is not a guarantee, then why not take action today? 

Clear that schedule, de-clutter that area of the home, sit down with a journal and pour out your intentions, start that project, finish that project, whatever is swirling around in your mind, and stirring up future-tense promises, know that you’re not fooling anyone; not even yourself.

Our mind knows, as does the heart, how serious our commitment to change is. Whether that be tomorrow, next week, or in three months.

Oh, yea. And please stop subscribing to the “if this wasn’t your year, the next one will be” narrative. It’s time to get honest with self about failures and successes, and taking some necessary but painful accountability.

Imagine if there were no calendars. Yes. If calendars didn’t exist, how would you determine when to start the next goal? When you’re ready to 100% commit. 

You don’t need a calendar for that. 

But, if it helps to keep you focused, by all means, do so. And stick to it. Your fresh new year means no excuses, right?

Stay focused. You got this.

Happy New Year, New Decade, and New You!

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