My Problem with New Year’s Resolutions

I dread the inevitable question, “Are you making any New Year’s resolutions this year?” As a perpetual perfectionist, I feel I ought to have goals — not only daily ones but annual ones.

The Pressure of New Year’s Resolutions

This time of year brings on additional pressure. I think of the unfinished book I’m writing, the unwanted excess weight I’m carrying, and the budget I cobbled together months ago that I’m ignoring. All the things that needle me with their incompleteness or out-of-controlness (my new word). Maybe these are the things I should rein in through the use of this yearly ritual.

We all know that most New Year’s Resolutions are either forgotten or ignored in a matter of weeks — being either too grandiose to be sustainable or lacking the conviction for staying power.

So why do it? Why proceed with this farce of devising annual goals?

The Problem is Me

The uncomfortable truth of the matter is this time of year draws my attention to the things I feel ashamed about and want to hide. Things I wish I would or could change.

My life is the way it is for a reason, though. No matter how much lip service I give to wanting it to be different.

I’m overweight because I like to eat more than I should. My budget is blown because I don’t control my spending. The first draft of my book isn’t finished because I give myself too many days off from writing.

I am where I’m at because of my choices. Regardless of what I say, it is my actions that reveal the truth.

Desire to Hide

It’s painful to stare directly into the depth of my impulsiveness or lack of willpower and call it good enough. These are the parts of myself I prefer to gussy up with lipstick and a pair of high heels. They are the weeds in my gardens that I’m too lazy to deal with but too ashamed to own.

I don’t like the fact that I don’t have it all together. I wonder who’s watching and will see these things about me. And worse yet, what will they think?

But am I all that worried about the watching public, or is it my own opinion that I fear the most?

Trying to win over others’ acceptance is my way of quieting the inner critic. I want to be able to say to that finger-wagging part of me, “See, they all think I’m fine, so shut the hell up!”

Maybe the problem isn’t me making New Year’s Resolutions, but rather the reason why I’m doing it. This yearly push to ramp up self-discipline will not fix my internal struggle to like myself. If anything, it will only make it worse.

Time to do Something Different

Instead, I need to do something different. Something that targets the problem instead of appeasing it.

Maybe this year, I need to commit to allowing myself to be imperfect. To mess up sometimes. To color outside the lines once in a while.

Maybe this year, I need to give myself the grace to be human. To be tired, stressed, or bored and in desperate need of a break. To fail, only to get back up and to try again.

Maybe this year, it’s okay to be me. To do things at my pace or my way. To say no more often.

Maybe it’s time to tell the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions to go piss off and to accept myself the way I am.

This post was previously published on From Shadow to Light and is republished here with permission from the author.

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