“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21
Here we are.
Christmas has come and gone once again and December is coming to a close.
It is almost January – 2021 has come and gone, and we will have to get used to typing and writing 2022 on our assignments, calendar, and notes as we advance into this upcoming month. Yet, there is always so much optimism in the air, as well as a sense of contemplating and reflecting on the past year, looking back at both the good and bad along with the weird and memorable.
We hold parties and see loved ones again even though we just saw them and celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas together. We laugh and party, welcoming in the new year and enjoying all of the traditions we have established when it comes to ushering in a new year, but there is one tradition that I have problems with:
New Year’s resolutions.
I don’t have a problem with the idea of resolutions themselves, I mean, who dislikes the idea of people improving the habits that shape their everyday lives? No, the problems I have are with the whole New Year’s resolutions culture that has become so prominent in 21st-century society.
I always hear the phrase and see the hashtag “New Year, New Me” and am often boosted by the optimism driving such statements, but then feel self-conscious of my lack of meaningful resolutions of any kind, not just of the New Year’s variety.
Maybe this is just because I do not think of them as resolutions – someone, generally, a family member or close friend, points out a bad habit or tendency of mine. In true people-pleasing fashion, I become obsessed with correcting this kind of behavior in all areas of my life. Instead of doing an objective self-evaluation at the end of the year and deciding what to do differently in the new year, I have fallen into a habit of always being so critical of myself at all times that I cannot bring myself to do it in an entirely constructive way.
According to an article in YouGovAmerica, about one in four Americans said they made New Year’s resolutions for 2020. The most common resolutions people made were improving their diets, losing weight, and saving money – resolutions that have been consistently popular over the years among adults.
Humans are creatures of habit, and forming new habits is extremely hard, especially ones that actually last longer than a few days before they don’t seem cool or trendy anymore.
According to an article in healthline, The European Journal of Social Psychology reported in a 2009 study that it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. So, for argument’s sake, let’s assume that you are very slow to develop practices and on the longer end of the spectrum, time-wise. There are only 350 days in a year, so that means that there are only…. 96 days left in the year to enjoy having this fully-formed habit, and then the year is over, and you need to make a new resolution to start a new routine, and the cycle starts all over again.
Of course, this is an entirely hypothetical situation, but my point stands. By the time you have fully broken into this new habit that you heralded as your #NewYearNewMe resolution, it is almost time to start a new one.
This is why I think resolutions are great, but they should not be reserved, especially for a new year. I have heard people lament about giving into bad, unhealthy habits and say that they will stop “in the new year” or will “make it part of my New Year’s resolution.”
We should never wait to start healthier habits for ourselves, for any reason.
Do not let New Year’s be intimidating or overwhelming because of the societal expectation to make them for the new year. Resolutions can be made at any time and for many reasons, and when made in the spur of the moment without any real thought or motivation will be quickly forgotten and abandoned before the first month of the new year is even over.
Also, do not let perfectionism stop you from making resolutions; they will not be followed flawlessly, there will be slipups and steps backward, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on continuing to form the habit. Perfection is not attainable, but perseverance and hard work will always yield admirable results, no matter how many bumps there are in the road along the way.
So while you are welcoming in the new year of 2022 (which will hopefully be generally better than 2020 and 2021), do not let yourself feel any additional pressure to make some grand resolutions and declarations to be so much better in the new year. Let yourself make small accomplishments throughout the year, starting in January of 2022!
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Until next time!