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The Do's and Don'ts of New Year's Resolutions

The Do's and Don'ts of New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are a little overrated. The idea of overhauling your entire self just because you have a shiny new calendar (as if anyone even still buys calendars...) is sort of like believing you’ll wake up a different person the second you turn 18, or 21, or 25.

Just like reading a single self-help book won’t change your whole life—sorry, Dr. Phil—making a list of everything you hope to change overnight can set yourself up for disappointment. And given how much people are beyond bummed with 2016, who wants to start off a fresh year already feeling disappointed?

There’s a reason a million pieces have been written about how to keep resolutions: because it’s hard. So whether you make a resolution, or 10, or none, here are a few things to consider. But first, a wise word from the always-sage Mindy Kaling: “Every day is like a New Year’s resolution for me. I’m a little like my character where I’m like, 'Ah, I’ve got to pull it together' constantly. So, New Year’s is just the time when everyone else in the world is doing it too.”

Don’t: Assume you have to make resolutions. You totally don’t! You can have a perfectly excellent next 365 days without making a long list of promises to yourself. You can be a better version of yourself without writing in your pink padlocked diary, “Be better version of myself.” Self-improvement is a never ending thing, just like we’re all constantly—seriously, constantly!—evolving. Look no further than the great Susan Sontag for inspo. In 1972, the writer made the following vow: “Kindness, kindness, kindness. I want to make a New Year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.” Almost 25 years have passed, but we could all use a little extra courage going into 2017, tbh.

Do: Consider about tiny things you can achieve instead of focusing on dream-big ambitions. We’re not telling you not to dream big. You should definitely do that, but focus on small, less-intimidating steps towards an achievement. If you want to finally, actually write that novel you’ve been thinking about forever, promise yourself you’ll knock out three chapters in three months, or a few pages a week, or a couple of sentences a day.

Don’t: Vow to start going to the gym, drinking green smoothies, and sleeping eight glorious hours every night. All of those things are great things! But trying to make too many changes all at once is exactly why so few people actually stick with their resolutions (only 8% of those who make resolutions achieve their goals! 8%!). And on that note, do us a favor and don’t make your resolutions all about an arbitrary number that appears on your old bathroom scale. If the only vegetables you eat are in the form of sweet potato fries then, yeah, making an effort to eat more veggies is a good thing to do. But cutting out sugar and gluten and caffeine and everything else you enjoy in life is just going to bum you out.

Do: Use this as an excuse for a little self-reflection/self-improvement/self-exploration, if you’re into that kind of thing. A few years ago, Jennifer Lawrence said, “My New Year’s resolution is to stand up for myself. It’s hard for me. Nobody wants to be disliked. You always want to be polite and be nice.” And that, friends, is a lesson we can use all year round.

 

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