"New Year, New Me" Can Get in the Bin - Ditch the Pressure this January
Not to sound too cliché, but it really is just such a stinker of a month. You’ve just got through Christmas - which is its own kettle of fish when it comes to big emotions, huge piles of pressure and just generally A LOT of things happening all at once. Regardless of whether you had the best Christmas ever, the whole festive season can be unbelievably overstimulating for anyone. You’re completely off your routine having eaten and drunk your way through doing whatever you feel like because “it's Christmas!” - and the same with New Year's Eve - it's a celebration!
But then that all comes crashing back down to earth on January 2nd. Where, not only are you supposed to instantly get back to real life and back to your routine without any hiccups, but for some reason you’re also supposed to identify all of your flaws and immediately transform into this super fit, super productive, super amazing version of yourself literally overnight by making your new year's resolution to “exercise more” or “eat less chocolate” or “make the bed every day" etc etc.?
Not only that, but all the fun you’ve had over Christmas immediately becomes something to be ashamed of. After everyone encourages you to indulge during December, in January those same voices tell you you were sooo bad to eat all of that, that you did too much and you need to immediately fix your wrongdoing by starting a new diet. When the whole world is screaming “new year, new you” before the tin of Christmas chocolates is even empty, it's hard not to believe them.
I’m sure New Year's resolutions started as just a sweet little tradition to take positive vibes into the new year with you; something to talk about at the party while you’re waiting around for midnight, or the perfect small talk when you’re back to work after Christmas. But this huge push for self-improvement no matter what smells awfully toxic to me, and feels like another harmful by-product of society today. Everything always has to be perfect no matter what, and if you aren’t perfect or don’t look perfect then you may as well not exist - that's how it feels a lot of the time. If you’re not doing anything and everything to fit into society's box then get ready for all the criticism, judgement and negativity to be doled out to you.
It just feels like another way for society and the patriarchy to pile their pressure on you and make you feel bad about yourself so you feel like you have to change. As if we don’t spend the rest of the year feeling bad about ourselves…
The thing is, setting New Year's resolutions just doesn’t seem to work. These endless, lofty goals just lead to a downward spiral when you ultimately fail because you aim yourself too high. And why are there so many New Year's resolutions about bodies and losing weight? It's almost like these companies are trying to sell us gym memberships or new fad diets… oh wait.
So if you’re tired of the BS New Year's resolutions, here's what you should do instead - nothing.
You don’t have to do a damn thing in January if you don’t want to. If you want to set yourself a goal for the year, that's amazing. If you want to use 2024 as an excuse to try something new, maybe a new hobby or activity that you’ve always wanted to do, that's awesome! Or if you want to do absolutely nothing and just keep muddling through as normal, that's 100% okay too. A new year can only be what you make of it, and piling on a load of pressure to completely reinvent everything you don’t like about yourself is just going to lead to disaster and heartbreak.
Just because it's a new year doesn't mean all your problems are magically solved. The planet starting a new trip around the sun doesn’t just magically reset everything and you get to start the whole year fresh. If you were sad on December 31st you’re probably going to be sad on January 1st too - the things you're worrying about, the stuff you're going through right now doesn’t go away. It would be amazing if it did, and maybe it does for some people! But a new year doesn’t automatically mean a new blank page. Some pages are still messy regardless of whether a new year has started. Though it can be a super convenient time to draw a line under a period of your life if you need to, at the end of the day, it's just another year. It's just another month, it's just another day. Nothing that dramatic.
So if you need it, this is your sign to just take it easy this January. It's okay if you achieve nothing but getting through each day. You’re pretty cool just as you are, and you don’t need to set some lofty self-improvement goal just to justify your existence. Just keep on muddling through like the rest of us, and do exactly whatever makes you happy.
And please don’t forget to be kind to yourself this year.