The Style Edit’s Niamh Crawford-Walker discusses why it’s ok not to make New Year resolutions.
It had been on my to do list since 27th December to sit down and make some goals for the year ahead. Sub-consciously, I procrastinated. I didn’t feel like reflecting. I didn’t feel like addressing new challenges. Not because I’m lazy, nor because I’m not motivated. In fact, to further contextualize the story, normally I champion a good goal setting session, I love a mood board and if you ever need a motivational quote sent your way, you’re welcome to my library of them anytime.
And so, last night on the eve of starting back to work, the night before the new year really started, the time seemed right to set those goals. So I cosied up in bed, lifted my journal, took the lid off my pen and set out to get serious about 2019. Except as I struggled to get the pen flowing, all I could think about were the 2018 highlight reels I’d skipped through on Instagram earlier that day.
Before running the risk of controversial territory, let’s get one thing straight. I’m all for celebrating your wins. In fact, it’s something I should probably do more of. I also understand that, as humans we’re prone to jealousy, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Sometimes we’re not even aware that it’s there. It’s this sub-conscious jealousy that causes us to believe that gloating is wrong and furthermore explains why not everyone enjoys the 2018 highlight reels posted on instagram come New Year’s Eve. We turn our noses up and don’t always react positively to those celebrating good news with the world. We love our friends and family, we support them to no end but every so often, the bitter head of jealousy rises, ever so slightly. It’s human. It’s not our best trait but it’s there and so long as we acknowledge and address it, it’s ok.
As I was flicking through said 2018 Instagram highlight reels, I couldn’t help thinking the 99% of them were ignoring the hardships they’d faced in 2018. Those we don’t share. Those that don’t make the Instagram cut and yet, they’re just as important in our development and growth as the triumphs are.
So, I lifted the pen again.
While an uncomfortable exercise, I listed both the highs and the lows of 2018 as they came to mind. It’s this list that allowed me to truly appreciate that actually, I’ve ended 2018 feeling at peace with it. The lows were awful, some more than others, most I’ll never share with people I don’t have to but they taught me invaluable lessons. About myself, about others, about elements of the world I’d been naive to. It wasn’t until I’d made this list that I felt ready to face my 2019 goals head on.
In complete juxtaposition, it was also this list that made me realise that actually, it’s ok not to make any New Year’s resolutions at all. Through the list I was able to appreciate the things that brought me joy. I discovered that as the year was coming to a close, I’d already been focusing on those things much more anyway. Many are more than ready to move on from the tough times 2018 brought to them, a sentiment I can empathise with and appreciate I’m fortunate not to be in this year. While I’m in such a position, I’m dedicated to spending 2019 embracing the things and people that I love all the more, building up existing experiences in my life that spark joy, investing in myself, my relationships, my mental health, my happiness and approaching new goals that arise with positivity rather than pressure.
Sure having my body look a certain way would be great and yes, travelling to X, Y and Z new cities would be fun. Reaching certain savings goals, owning a designer handbag, moving out to my own place, they all might sound impressive but so does working on my confidence, enjoying the company of my favourite people, embracing a Friday night in. It’s the latter that will serve me in the long term. It’s the latter that aligns with my values. It’s the latter that brings me the most joy. Some years are all about change and maybe that’s how 2019 will turn out for me through a lack of control but mostly, I’m ready to go with the flow.
My proposition to you?
Instead of rushing to make a list of goals to fulfil this year, enter the new year with a commitment to being present. Make your goal one of zero pressure and instead remain open to the possibility of your potential. Be open to change and compassionate about your shortcomings. This year give yourself permission to be you, wholeheartedly. Allow what’s supposed to happen, happen at its own pace.
This approach won’t resonate with everyone but take a second to reflect on previous new year’s resolutions that didn’t come into fruition. Think about why you set such goals. Chances are, there’s a reason you didn’t shift that weight, take up that new hobby or finish that extensive reading list. Maybe you didn’t actually want to. Maybe you were adhering to perceived societal norms. Maybe you put too much emphasis on the planning and forgot the follow through. Either way, you watched as your motivation slipped lower and lower throughout the year. You wallowed in feelings of failure and inadequacy when inevitably, you didn’t achieve the goals or broke your resolutions within three weeks of making them.
This year, give yourself a break.
Allow yourself the room to breathe.
Believe it or not, everything you need is right in front of you. You just have to learn to acknowledge and appreciate it. In doing so you’ll give yourself the freedom to follow what your inner self truly wants.
It may sound mushy, cliché, cringeworthy even but just try it. For one year. Then see how you feel when New Year’s Eve comes around again.
And if you do cave to setting New Year’s resolutions, do it for you.