Why I Stopped Making New Year’s Resolutions

During COVID, like many others, I took the opportunity to enhance various aspects of my life. I committed to a more consistent exercise routine, became mindful of my dietary choices, and delved into books I thought would make me "smarter". However, as the world reopened, I struggled to maintain the lifestyle I had cultivated within the confines of my bedroom.

In the subsequent years, up until last year, I found myself trapped in a recurring pattern of setting New Year's resolutions aligned with the seemingly idealistic quarantine lifestyle. Yet, each year by March or April, I faced disappointment in my achievements, or rather, the lack thereof.

There wasn't a sudden "AHA" moment for me; instead, I gradually realized that during lockdown, I had nothing but free time to achieve what I deemed crucial for a fulfilling life. However, as the world opened up, I didn't recognize the competing commitments vying for my attention. At the beginning of each new year, I simply urged myself to overcome laziness and strive for perfection in various aspects of my life. I really thought that if I just had enough will, I really would be able to attend four hours of lecture, read for two hours, eat three perfectly healthy meals a day, hone all my hobbies to the point of being intermediately proficient, and of course, exercise. I'm honestly exhausted just typing all that...

Remarkably, I managed to actually adhere to this rigorous routine throughout 2022—for about a month. During that time, I discovered that while these activities seemed commendable on a broad scale, they consumed all my time and only marginally elevated my happiness. Waking up early for the gym, obsessing over obscure organic foods, and treating hobbies as chores left me dissatisfied. For crying out loud, I was reading economics papers for "fun"!

After that month, I acknowledged that the standards I had set were disingenuous and did not contribute significantly to my well-being. I realized my true sources of happiness were narrower than I initially thought—simple walks and city exploration brought me joy. While healthy eating mattered, I learned not to berate myself for occasional takeout after exhausting lectures. I grasped that hobbies were meant to be enjoyed, not forced, and my love for reading and drawing should not be overshadowed by a sense of obligation.

That year, I decided to shift away from making drastic changes at the year's outset. Instead, I focused on identifying activities that brought me joy in my daily life and embraced them whenever possible. This doesn't have to mean abandoning New Year's resolutions but rather customizing them to genuinely improve one's quality of life, free from societal pressures.

My goal, not just for this year but for the foreseeable future, is to transition from a "new year, new me" mindset to a "new year, happier me" mindset. Good luck!

– Crystal <3

2 comments on “Why I Stopped Making New Year’s Resolutions

  1. I deeply resonate with this. Overwhelming myself with numerous shortcomings did more damage to my mental state than improvements to my well-being. What worked for me was identifying one or two things I want to improve on and committing to just those. Thanks for such a great read Crystal!

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