It’s come to a time of year where my social media has me all introspective and sad; I’ll log onto Twitter, read someone’s list of their 2016 achievements, and swiftly log out.
This is not out of irritation, or jealousy – it’s pretty inspiring to read about people’s hard work and creativity, and it makes me happy to hear that they’re happy. I too have achieved much in 2016 that I’m proud of. However, I’ve also spent a lot of time this year feeling low and doing absolutely nothing of worth; these have been periods where I’m anxious enough that I feel pressured to utilise my time in a “productive” way, but too depressed to enact my goals. The subsequent guilt and frustration I feel causes me to interpret others’ successes as my failures, and encountering lists of others’ achievements has me looking to 2017 with a desperation to be a better person by the end of next year. I imagine I will accomplish that by completing an endless array of resolutions – get fit, stop being so lazy, be more sociable, make more effort with friends and family, write more, get a hobby… It’s never ending, and through setting myself so many vague and unrealistic resolutions, pre-empt my own failure in achieving them.
I’m not alone. A 2015 ComRes poll for Bupa interviewed 2,014 adults, 63 percent of whom admitted to breaking a New Year’s Resolution. Of this 63 percent, 43 percent said their last broken resolution had not lasted even a month. The solution might be more willpower or commitment, but equally it could be that we need to make better resolutions.
There are three main issues with resolutions of the nature I have described.
Firstly, they are too much about me, and the person I am, rather than actions I can take and do. “Stop being lazy” – this sounds pretty cruel, something you would never say to someone you loved or cared about, and is also pretty unhelpful, more of a wish than a constructive resolution. Additionally, (and this is the second issue), it is not a specific resolution. “Stop being lazy” or “get fit” doesn’t tell me how I will do these things or how often and therefore know whether I’ve achieved it. Thirdly, they are just not achievable. There’s loads, and they all take a lot of work! Therefore, my last act of 2016 to better myself is going to be to make better New Year’s Resolutions.
- Leave the house to swim, or go to a yoga class, at least once a week. While inwardly, I am hoping to exercise more frequently than this, once a week is more than I did last year, so it’s good to set an achievable target. Also, I like swimming and yoga.
- Call up a friend once a week. I don’t see my friends enough, it’s true – but we all work full-time jobs and are tired pretty much all the time. A phone call is more personal and valuable than a WhatsApp message, but again, I am being realistic with this.
I’m also going to be kind to myself if I don’t achieve these. Being harsh on myself isn’t going to make me a better person, or 2017 a better year. It’s important our New Year’s Resolutions reflect this sentiment, and are formulated out of kindness rather than self-punishment.
Happy New Year!