You find yourself transported back to the end of a horrible 2016 (which has somehow prepared us for 2017–yay desensitization!). You’re sitting on your couch, stuffing your face with buttery popcorn, and binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix (Gilmore Girls? Stranger Things? The Defenders? You gotta let me know below!). As you reflect on the past year, you find yourself vehemently vowing to change things with the turn of the new year. You create a mental list of New Year’s resolutions that goes on and on for six imaginary pages of all the things you will do to improve yourself next year–run every morning, cut out carbs, find a new job, get a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Now, you find yourself back in the present, a year later, only to find that you have failed in all regards. Which is totally fine. This does not mean you have to give up on resolutions for 2018. Even having those goals in mind for 2017 means you’ve done something to get closer to what you want, to improve in some way, so you are only a failure if you decide you’re a failure (and this goes for anything in life).
I am not one of those people who believe there’s no point in New Year’s resolutions. I believe everything is a process and it’s all about investing time and effort (resilience, my child!)–the same goes for actually making resolutions. There is a right way to do resolutions, which is as important as fulfilling them.
Firstly, here’s a mini-list of suggestions for how to make New Year’s resolutions before I continue on to the ones I think you should take on for yourself in 2018:
1 – Be realistic
You can’t expect to make drastic changes–and a lot of them–in one year alone. You’ll immediately feel mentally and emotionally overwhelmed by all the things you want to accomplish which will naturally lead to despair and procrastination. You can’t think to yourself you’re going to lose 200 pounds next year or become the executive of a Forbes 500 company (unless your company is already at 501, I guess; thank you for reading this from the comfort of your yacht). Think baby steps because they will eventually take you further than 7-league boots (you can’t even really see where you’re going with those, and there may be a sudden need for a change in direction but too late).
2 – Make a short list
This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Just shred the last five pages of your list of resolutions. You really don’t need a lot of them. I would pick a handful of things to focus on, but the important thing is to pick one major one–one huge change that you really want to strive for, that you will focus on the most. The other ones should be smaller. For example, in 2017, my main resolution was to become more positive. At first, I didn’t think I was successful at all, but I began to sense a change in myself–I’ve become much more active than passive/reactive. Just by noticing I was failing to be positive at specific moments made the problem of negativity more immediate. I started to take note of the things that made me feel bad, and this self-awareness is extremely helpful.
3 – Pick ones that are meaningful to you
With everything in life, if you’re not passionate about something, you’re less likely to achieve it. In this case, it really has to mean something to you, whatever resolution you may decide. If you want to lose weight to look great in a bikini for other people, you really aren’t going to care enough to hit the gym or throw out your Flamin’ Cheetos (this truly takes Herculean strength). If you want a significant other just because you’re bored or hate the prying questions from nosy relatives on Thanksgiving, you are likely going to stay single. The resolutions have to be something you genuinely care about, not just tasks you feel obligated to fulfill, and definitely not superficial accomplishments that have no heart in ’em. It’s really hard to make yourself care about something, so choose from the things you already care about.
4 – Get a head start
You have to hit the ground running. Lots of people think, “Oh, the New Year, a new beginning. I will turn a new leaf as the clock strikes midnight.” In reality, you need to give yourself a head start because the actual start is the hardest part of any project. That’s why I started slowly taking on projects at the start of December, like this blog. I already feel more prepared for the new year instead of lazily idling in standby mode like I always do, expecting to be magically hit by productivity and inspiration when the time comes–that never happens. As soon as you try to start things on January 1, you’ll find that you can’t, and then you’ll get frustrated, spiral into a depression, and give up on yourself before really giving it a go.
Now if you really want to become a mentally healthier you next year, I have a couple of suggestions that should make 2018 a successful year! Let’s finally get on to those New Year’s resolutions!