I try not to hate.
But I hate New Year’s Resolutions.
For the past decade or so, I’ve fooled myself into believing I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions.
However, I did choose “words for the year,” and even went so far, for a few years, as to have “words for each month.” I would tarot or journal and definitely note all the things about me that weren’t right (read: that I didn’t like about myself) and make copious notes about how I needed to work on them.
Even this first week into the new year, I’ve been antsy because I haven’t had the chance to organize the twelve months ahead. I feel restless, unfinished, because I haven’t sat down to take a long-ass time to remind myself I’m imperfect, and I gotta get on that shit.
In today’s New York Times newsletter, Melissa Kirsch wrote: “David Sedaris has written about how, every New Year’s Eve, he had watched his mother scribbling furiously on a bunch of index cards. After her death, he discovered that she’d written the same thing on each one: ‘Be good.’
That’s a good encapsulation of all resolutions, isn’t it? Be good. Resolutions tend to be freighted with the implication that the way you are now is not good, or at least not good enough. My resolutions are typically of this variety: self-criticism disguised as self-improvement. Get in shape; stop your profligate spending; be nicer; work harder. If your resolution seems architected by someone who doesn’t like you, there’s still time to reconsider it.”
That last sentence hit me like a Mack truck.
“Architected by someone who doesn’t like you.”
I actually like me. I think I’m pretty rad.
So…what the fuck am I doing?
I’ll tell you, to be prepared for my plans tomorrow of sorting out my life for the year to come, on my to-do list that’s sitting inches from my keyboard, I’ve written: Year – Less screen time. More reading, movies, cooking. $–be good [less spending].
Those were just notes I jotted down. Tomorrow, you could be sure, I’d also be all over the ever-present: Eat healthier, work out, get your steps in, get your stand time in, be active.
Not to mention the goal I set to go through every inch of my house, purge stuff I never use, and organize the rest.
Oh, and then there are the new ones I started recently that I want to make certain I continue: Less DoorDash, put on real-people clothes and get out in the world, buy your own groceries, run errands and go to the mall [stop shopping online].
Weirdly, if you’re paying enough attention to notice them, life throws into your path the things you need.
I needed today’s NYT newsletter.
I woke up this morning to an angry cat who was over my lie-in and wanted me to feed her along with a sense of melancholy because, since Thanksgiving, my life has been full. I’ve barely had time to do laundry and change my sheets because of brunches, lunches, dinners, parties, shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking. I usually put makeup on maybe once or twice a week, but I ran out of foundation because I had so many reasons to get myself together and look cute.
So, in bed this morning, the post-holiday blahs settled over me like a suffocating shroud, because I woke up thinking I’m back to the same old, same old. Feed cat. Make coffee. Sit down and do some work. Hang in front of the TV. Go to bed. Rinse. Repeat.
And with these two things, I see now that New Year’s Resolutions are a double-edged sword.
One razor-sharp side is giving yourself the opportunity to list all your “failings” and desperately find ways to work on them (only to have such lofty ideas, you fail, which makes each year’s resolutions uncomfortable). However, the simple act of devoting time to considering how wrong you are and how you need to get right is just plain not good.
The other side is making resolutions for the purpose of fighting the after-holidays blues, committing to shaking up your life so you can stave off the depression, not only of facing months of short, cold days (though, the second part of that in Phoenix is subjective), but of facing the fact that you are…indeed…you. Your life is…indeed…your life. There’s no escaping either. And you shouldn’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully intend to avoid Safeway’s online shopping in order to go to the grocery store my damned self. Not to mention, I live smack in the middle of the city, so there’s pretty much nothing I can’t get within a five-mile radius. Thus, if I need face primer or printer paper, I’m going to get off my ass and go to Sephora or Target to get it. In so doing, I’ll be more active, get my steps and stand time in, and do something that’s important to me: give my custom to brick and mortar stores. Oh, and indulge in something I love doing: shopping.
And don’t get me wrong part two. Sometimes life does need a shakeup. We all get into ruts, fall into habits we should break or situations we need to escape. If the New Year is an excuse to assess these and find some way to tackle them, I’m all for it (though, I’ll note that any time of year is the right time to tackle better mental and physical health, reevaluate toxic relationships, consider needed change to spending habits, etc.)
As for me, when I do sit down with my tarot and journal tomorrow (oh yes, I still intend to do that), I’m going to have a mind more to the shakeup and less to the censure.
Goals are good.
Recrimination is bad.
That line can get blurred, and it has all my life (I’ve even blogged about things I want to change about myself right here on my website!). I’m an extremely goal-oriented person, and that’s served me well, but I have to delete the “however” that seems to follow every good thing I think about myself.
Being goal-oriented has served me well, however, I make such lofty goals, and have such high expectations, I frequently set myself up to fail.
That’s a sentence architected by someone who doesn’t like me.
Instead, it should be: Being goal-oriented has served me well. The end.
So what if I fail? I’m me, I’ll never stop trying. All my life I’ve been hustling, it’s what I do, I’ll never stop doing that either.
In twelve months, I may, or may not, have a completely organized house with all the unnecessary stuff that’s been cluttering it eliminated. I may, or may not, fall into hours of TikTok and Instagram scrolling in order to check out of my work-heavy life. And I may, or may not, add these to my lists of things to shakeup when 2025 rolls around.
Because I’m a goal-oriented person, I’m constantly making goals, and that’s served me well.
And that’s the end.
If you’re a resolution-type of person, who falls into cycles and kicks your own ass because you do, I hope you get to that space too.
This isn’t about striving to be perfect. This isn’t about being bad and finding ways to be “good.”
This is about shaking things up, setting goals, and recognizing you got this far, so you’ve been doing a lot of things right.
It’s simply time to ask…where are you going now?
Good luck with whatever those plans are. And if you don’t crack them, whatever. You’re already awesome, being awesomer would be cool, but settling into the awesome you already are is awesome in itself.