This New Year will be like other New Years: you’ll get tired trying to stay up past midnight, you might wear something sparkly (glitter eyeshadow with your sweatpants counts), and you’ll probably make a list of resolutions. You’ll reflect on the lessons you learned from the past year and think about what accomplishments you want to make the next year. But the difference with this New Year, of course, is that the past year itself looked a lot different.
While resolutions typically don’t last long (turns out our brains are just not into abruptly changing habits when a day on the calendar is the only motivation), a different kind of year allows us to make new resolutions because we’re different too. In 2020, we’ve learned a lot, changed a lot, and grew a lot. We can break out of the endless New Year’s cycle and make resolutions that will actually last a lifetime. Here are six ways that resolutions are different this year, and some ideas for resolutions that you will care to keep:
If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that nothing is a given. The most normal things like how we work, socialize, and greet each other have changed drastically. Companies (and careers) had to pivot, family traditions looked a lot different, and habits adjusted. The past year has taught us what happens when our plans change or we lack normalcy. While resolutions of past years might have been more focused on what you want to change, maybe this year’s resolution might be to strengthen your ability to change. No matter what 2021 looks like, resolutions will reflect that adapting is a skill, and accepting change is necessary.
- When I go through tough times, I will trust that everything will work out OK
- I will find new ways to reach any goal
- I will practice letting go of expectations
- I will appreciate the things that always stays the same
Listen to your body
To preface, this “health goal” is different than the “run a marathon” or “lose weight” goals of New Years pasts. Those goals depended on external measurements to affirm us: a mile, a number on a scale, or a step count on a smartwatch. Instead, resolutions this year depend on internal measurements to achieve self-affirmation. Body intelligence (or listening to how your body feels) is the way we take back power. For example, do certain foods make you feel energized and happy, while others make you feel lethargic and sick? Eat based on that, not on a diet.
And forget what a nutrition label or a portion recommendation tells you is the serving size; eat until you are satisfied, without feeling stuffed. It’s time to acknowledge that every body is different and needs different things: that goes for food, exercise, and the pants size it fits into when it’s healthy. We have to stop thinking the secret to health is a magic pill or a fad diet; your body already knows what it needs to be healthy. You just have to listen.
- I will check in with my body before and after every meal to see how it feels
- I will exercise in ways that are exciting and fun for me
- I will ditch outdated food rules and focus on adding more nutrients instead of eating less calories
Ditch any “self-care” that doesn’t mean “self-love”
To be honest, I hate baths. I’ve tried a variety of luxurious bath soaks, have sipped on all my favorite wines, and even lit the fanciest candles. I’ve listened to podcasts, played music, and put on TV shows. But no matter what, I get bored, hot, and overall just feel… soapy. What actually feels like caring for myself? Taking a walk with my dog, spending 30 minutes to cook a fancy lunch (just because), laughing at trashy TV with my boyfriend, and going to regular therapy.
Another confession: meditation makes me stressed. I always sit there thinking I should be able to meditate, why can’t I focus, and what the hell is wrong with me that I’m not good at this meditation stuff (because I am so wellness-y that I should be, right)!? But the point of meditation, or baths, or whatever activity you think is crucial for wellness is not to check another box off the to-do list. The purpose is to care for yourself, calm stress levels, increase self-love, and achieve balance. If any activity is not doing that for you, either change it up or leave it alone. Self-care is meant to make your life more fulfilling, not more stressful. Period.
- I will identify how my body actually recharges (and do it more often)
- I will regularly make time for the activities I love
- I will get rid of the idea that caring for myself looks the same as it does for anyone else
Redefine what you want out of life
If you’re all about becoming your best self and using the new year as a new beginning, all power to you. But where do you get the resolutions you make? Are the changes you hope for coming from what other people tell you you should be, or maybe what you think you’re supposed to want to be? Major truth bomb coming at you: the purpose of life is to be happy. That’s it. Not to be perfect, skinny, successful, or even well-liked. Make sure that each year’s resolutions are truly leading you closer to the overarching goal instead of farther away. What does your “best self” actually mean to you (and only you)? Think about what it would take to feel fulfilled, and then set resolutions to get there.
- I will prioritize the hobbies, habits, and people who make me happy
- I will spend more time doing the activities that make time pass quickly
- I will reexamine my relationships and let go of the ones that don’t make me feel good
- I will give up goals that wouldn’t truly fulfill me
Lead with compassion
2020 arguably brought some good changes, too: we learned to depend on each other, to support each other, and some of us learned we needed to wake up. This year’s bottom line: compassion should not be an afterthought; it should be the #1 priority. The world would drastically change if we were curious about other perspectives more than we wanted to share our opinions. Sure, maybe it sounds idealistic, but in 2020 it had to become a reality. So in 2021, resolve to lead with compassion: eat with compassion by finding out where your food comes from, buy with compassion by supporting businesses who deserve your money, and spend your free time with compassion by educating yourself on experiences or backgrounds that are not your own.
- I will read books that will help me grow as a person, even if I am uncomfortable
- I will make an effort to support small businesses
- I will become more active in my community
- I will ask other people questions more often than I make statements
Be satisfied with now
Resolutions are always focused on the future: I will lose 10 pounds, I will go to the gym, I will save $1,000. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to better your future self (we always should be to keep growing), but the secret formula to a fulfilling life is feeling whole in where you are right now. If you use New Year’s resolutions as another way of saying that you will be happy once you’re in a relationship, or you will love yourself once you lose weight, or you will be satisfied once you get that promotion (back to that dangerous “will”), you’ll always be chasing something. There will always be another relationship, another 5 pounds, or another promotion. Instead, focus on how you can feel so whole that you still have dreams and goals, but your happiness does not depend on whether or not you reach them.
- I will remember that happiness is a skill, not a circumstance, and will work on it instead of waiting for it
- I will practice gratitude, even for the smallest things
- I will live every day as if I have already reached my goals
- I will stop waiting for other things to happen to live the life I want