The precise things on list changed over the course of the years, but in the end, it was always the same crap. I figured that by following my resolutions—or at least, by consciously promising to try—I was doing my part in being healthier, happier, and more successful.
Now let me take a step back. I pride myself on being someone who has strong will power. I am the kind of person who will do whatever it takes to (fill the blank however you please. Odds are, it applies). When I know I’m not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough for something, I change everything about my life to prove that I am, in fact, good enough, smart enough, and strong enough. I used to believe this stemmed from a strong work ethic. Slowly, I’m finding, it comes from a much darker state of mind (more on that another day).
Anyway, back to the resolutions.
The first day in the new year always starts strong. I would make a healthy meal, spend time with family or friends, go out for a jog or even a walk, and (try to) sleep at a reasonable time. Next day, the same.
I typically keep this going for about a few weeks before I start to see cracks. A bad grade on a test or a horrible day at work makes me want to do nothing else but sit on the couch in front of the TV. I medicate social life drama (or sometimes lack thereof) with chips, cake, or any fast food I can get my hands on. When are things are really bad, simply looking into the mirror sends me into a downward spiral that makes me want to stay in bed and never get out.
Don’t even get me started on what happens when I go online…
Falling behind on resolutions made me feel worse about myself than before I even had them. In October through December, for instance, I wouldn’t think twice about staying up late to read blogs, watch YouTube, or browse Reddit. I knew I shouldn’t have a scoop of ice cream so late, but I wouldn’t beat myself up for it. I’d hang out with friends because I wanted their company, not because I wanted a social life. I wasn’t perfect, but I was at least kind to myself.
Post new year? I became my own worst enemy.
In late January of 2018, I remember hiding in bed under the covers, crying because I just indulged in some Shake Shack after a long day of (grad) school then work. I bailed on going to the gym. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I didn’t want to work out. I didn’t want to go out. I just wanted to be alone.
When I had no more tears left to cry, I made my way into the bathroom. Staring at myself in the mirror, I tried figuring out why I was so down. I felt bad for myself. At that moment, I just wanted to give myself a hug—not out of love, but out of pity.
I had guilted myself into believing that the things I wanted to do were bad.
I wanted to watch TV. I wanted to eat junk on bad days. I wanted to stay up late. Those aren’t crimes. They’re just preferences. They’re what my free time my free time.
It was then, I realized the toxicity of my resolutions. By trying to be “healthier, happier, and more successful” I became unwell and depressed. That wasn’t success. That was disaster.
I don’t know where the idea that we need to be doing these things started from. Sure, it’s a good idea to eat healthy, and it’s best to live a balanced lifestyle. But the key is moderation, not elimination.
That day, I put my headphones in and went for a walk. I promised myself that my resolution from now on would be to never set another resolution. I vowed to be conscious and in the moment, and to think about every decision I made.
Would watching a movie on the weekend set me back on my to-do list? Yeah, a little. Would it help me feel better after an intense week? Hell, yeah!
Physical health is incomplete without mental rest. I would tattoo that on the insides of my eyelids if I could.
The new year is just that. It’s not a new you, it’s not a new life, and it’s not a reset button that magically turns bad habits into a thing of the past. It’s just a new day, just like the day before was.
Now, I set goals. Exercise in some way or another at least twice a week. Try to keep meals balanced. Make sure to get the rest I need. Keep in touch with those who matter—even if it’s just by sending them a funny meme.
You wanna know what? I have yet to fall behind…