Every New Year, we are all encouraged to start afresh and make New Year’s resolutions to better ourselves in the twelve months ahead. Christmas has barely returned to its cardboard boxes when the exercise equipment appears in the supermarkets, and the wellness books are stocked on the shelves of every bookshop.
It can make people feel pressured to better themselves immediately after the holidays, guilty for not keeping up with their usual habits while they took a time out from their usual schedules to celebrate. Resolutions sometimes seem like the answer.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to set goals for the year ahead. It’s almost instinctual to do so. It is a chance to renew yourself, to take stock of the previous year and see where you want to take yourself in the new one.
However, I know myself that in the past I have been very quick to set large, often unattainable goals for the year that I end up not following through with. This has led to me taking quick solutions to problems, solutions that do not work in the long term and leave me feeling worse than before.
I also know that I’m not the only one to feel negatively about making resolutions around New Year’s. Often it is more the pressure of the new year coming that makes people decide to make resolutions, rather than their own personal desires.
So, when we sit down and think about it, do we really have to make all these goals and resolutions in the first month of the new year?
I think it’s important to remember that if you don’t feel like this is the right time to make any resolutions, then you don’t have to.
Many people have taken to starting their resolutions in the spring, as that feels more like a new beginning than the dark, cold January days we are facing at the moment. It can be especially hard because of the low mood that is prominent – both because of the wintery conditions and the return to routine.
It is only tradition that dictates that we make resolutions as soon as the new year begins. In reality, we can decide to create new goals for ourselves at any point in time. There are always new exercise classes, new skills to try, new books to read. These things are not limited to the first few weeks of the year.
In the end, only you can decide what works best for you. If you can set goals for yourself in January and find that makes you happy, then that is fantastic! Keep doing what you’re doing.
However, if you feel pressured to make resolutions in the new year and find yourself stressed or unhappy about them, it’s likely that you will not be motivated to keep them. In that case, it might be better to wait until you feel ready to set yourself some goals.
The most important thing is that you listen to what your body and mind needs and follow through with that, no matter what the outside world says. Taking care of yourself should always be the top priority.